By James Mates, Community Impact Editor, EURASIA AGENCY
The delay by Ford Motor Company (FMC) to sign a child care agreement with Ottawa has done tremendous damage to children across Canada.
Linda Matsushita, founder of Catholic Family House in Belleville, Ontario, was quick to put the blame where it belongs: on the shoulders of Ford Motor Company.
Although Ford’s long-term plan for Canada has not been revealed, the company has committed to promoting initiatives that improve the economic and social well-being of the Canadian working families.
Ford’s parent company, Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd., had signed a child care agreement with the federal government of Canada to promote access to quality child care in the company’s plants.
However, yesterday, in the waning days of Parliament’s summer recess, Ford reversed the decision and signed an agreement with federal minister Joe Oliver, instead.
The agreement reportedly stipulates that the agreement with the federal government must be completed by 26 September.
Matsushita’s frustration with Ford’s decision to cancel the agreement and sign an interim child care agreement with Oliver is understandable.
“I think they should be held responsible for their actions,” Matsushita said. “Child care is something that has given birth to many Canadians, and had they been able to work on the child care industry, perhaps the other side of this matter [Ottawa taking over of the child care sector] might have been different.”
“The fact that we have a single government in Ottawa that seems to want to get into every other aspect of our lives, yet they are afraid to take care of a responsibility that affects a large part of their population…it is just their way of telling us: ‘We’re out of your business,'” she added.
Matsushita, who has been developing the issue with thousands of parents and professionals in Ontario’s Catholic school districts since 1991, said that the outcome of child care policy changes in Canada affects both children and citizens of Ontario.
Parental involvement in child care is as important as teaching and learning. Although child care currently cannot be implemented at Catholic schools, it can and does impact the curriculum at Catholic high schools.
“Our job is to take care of what we do in our Catholic high schools, and that is to serve the student community and the students and provide the right kind of education for them,” said Matsushita.
“So, if the government doesn’t want to put its money into child care, maybe they should put more money into our classrooms,” she said.
Matsushita added that Catholic Family House’s immediate concerns now are to ensure that all children from young children through to teenagers have quality care from every aspect.
She also believes that if there are funds for the Canada Child Benefit, then there should be a way for children to be provided with this benefit in order to ensure that parents can fully contribute towards the care of their children.
Matsushita believes that the lessons that the child care industry learned from Ford could be applied at every level of the education system.
“If we do the best job we can, in the standards we apply in our child care units and the programs that we offer, if we are going to be doing our job, then a child will get what he or she needs,” she said.
Matsushita added that people should ask a lot of questions from the government in charge of the Child Care Benefit (CCB) in order to ensure that children receive the best possible child care they can get.
Matsushita is currently involved in a child care pilot project that includes subsidized child care at the Bryan school district in Middlesex County. She hopes that the pilot project will determine whether there are any changes needed in the child care industry and become the norm.
“We want to make sure the child care issues are considered in terms of everything else that is happening, and that our child care, the child care people, are going to have fair compensation and fair entry in the future,” she said.