EDMONTON—Public Interest Alberta (PIA) has released documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request into negotiations between a new Texas based company and the government to build 14,000 childcare spaces.
The Canadian Childcare Educational Property Fund (CCCEPF) is a real estate development company that was set up in Canada and has been attempting to convince provincial governments across the country to establish public private partnership (P3) agreements to build childcare centres.
In Alberta, the company had a number of meetings with various government departments throughout the fall of 2008 to secure a commitment that would allow them to build 80 childcare centres of 175 children each. The documents reveal that by December, the company had even proceeded to secure land, and thought that they were close to a deal.
However, in the cover letter to PIA from the Freedom of Information Office, it is stated that “The Program area has advised the Information and Privacy Office that Mr. Wulf has been informed by the department that they are not interested in pursuing his proposal.” It was, however, recently revealed by a government source that the “Premier’s Office had gotten directly involved in the negotiations.”
“We are very relieved that the Ministry of Children’s Services has decided to reject this proposal for the corporatization of our childcare system,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “However, while they have rejected this particular proposal we are very concerned that the government remains open to the misguided approach of expanding the role of corporations in childcare, rather than developing a plan to invest in building community based childcare, which is what the families of this province really need.”
While the province has committed to build 14,000 childcare spaces by 2011, the $1500 that is provided for each new space is not enough to build new childcare facilities. This means most childcare centres are forced to pay high rents in locations that are too often far from ideal for quality childcare. To make matters worse, the Alberta government has actually under-spent the childcare budget by over $80 million dollars since 2001.
“It makes me so angry to see that in this wealthy province we are leaving our childcare to the market and that this government has created the huge problem of long waiting lists instead of investing in community based quality childcare to meet the needs of young families”, said Cherie Langlois Klassen, a mother of twin girls, a lawyer and co-chair of PIA’s Childcare Task Force.
“Had they actually spent everything that was in the childcare budget on building new spaces, we could have thousand of more spaces today. Instead they seem to be more interested in expanding the corporate control of childcare like the recently announced deal between the University and ‘Kids and Company.'"
- 30 -