Concordia staff and students rally against university’s decision to close daycare

Click to play video: 'Concordia University’s daycare to shut down'
Concordia University’s daycare to shut down
Students and staff members at Concordia University are very upset that the high education institution is shuttering its decades old daycare. The pre-school centre will be closed next July to allow Concordia to expand. But the decision has Montreal parents scrambling to find a new daycare for their children. As Global’s Olivia O’Malley reports – the parents are fighting back -- hoping administrators at the university will change their minds – Nov 18, 2022

Students and staff at Concordia University in Montreal should be focusing on mid-terms, but lately the groups’ efforts have been concentrated on saving their children’s daycare.

“It’s a really busy time and it’s already impacting us emotionally, psychologically, it’s impacting our work,” said computer science and software engineering professor Marta Kersten-Ortel, who’s son goes to CPE Concordia.

The university is set to close CPE Concordia on St. Matieu Street in July 2023. The closure is to allegedly make space for academic needs.

“I’m disappointed that there’s not a better collaboration to work on this despite, you know, an understanding that we’re trying to grow our campus,” said Kersten-Ortel.

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The daycare was founded in 1973. There are spots for 80 children, ages 18 months to five years. Concordia students and staff are given priority.

“This place allows me to work effectively and parent effectively, and without it, I would be in complete crisis. Which is what I’m facing now as of July 1,” said history professor Max Bergholz who has two sons in daycare.

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Varda Nisar has a thee-year-old daughter. The PhD candidate said the daycare is like a second home since moving to Canada.

“When we joined Concordia, we thought Concordia relied on certain values, that it upheld certain values. To know that it does not, and at the end of the day, real estate is what matters, it’s been very disappointing,” Nisar told Global News.

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Staff and students said Concordia gave them no alternate child-care options. The university’s only other subsidized daycare on its Loyola campus with 12-14 spaces.

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“I waited two and a half years to get this space here, so I have no faith that I will find a space for my children,” said Bergholz.

In an email to Global News a Concordia University spokesperson said, “we are continuing to meet with the CPE to see how we can support them to ensure that the daycare can remain open while balancing our need for space on our downtown campus.”

Parents, however, say there has been a lack of communication and support from the university after making the unilateral decision.

“It’s part, in my view, of a longer-term pattern here at the university – which is very troubling – of these top-down decisions that are issued without consultation with the people being affected,” said Bergholz.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Education and Minister of Families told Global News in an email, “The ministry is aware of the situation and will support the CPE in its efforts to avoid a break in service.”

The group has created a petition urging Concordia to rescind its decision and parents are working to get their unions involved.

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