CUPE members hold “kitchen table” conversations on public child care

Photo: "Yesterday's Auction Find", Yellow House

CUPE members from across Manitoba met to discuss the importance of public child care and the need for a national child care strategy.

This meeting took part during CUPE’s Winter School in Gimli, Manitoba (January 25-27), where approximately 80 CUPE members gathered to discuss stewarding, financial officer training, health and safety, and public speaking.

The “kitchen table” conversations were an informal way for members to talk about their personal experiences with public and private child care. They discussed many issues, including the need to create a greater awareness of the current child care situation and how it affects families and communities.

These conversations are the first part of a multi-year child care campaign. With the active support of CUPE members we are aiming to make public and non-profit child care a priority in the 2015 federal election.

During these conversations members discussed the challenges they faced in accessing affordable child care. Many are now paying over $1,000 a month in child care costs while others are on five-year waiting lists for public child care facilities.

Some pointed out that private child care centres are exploiting the situation, moving in to “fill the gap” created by insufficient public funding, costing their families more while getting less in return.

Here is a sampling of some of the other stories collected during the kitchen table conversations:

  • One member told the story that they had to move into an apartment from a home in order to pay for their child’s care;
  • Another member shared a similar story, saying that her family could not afford to invest in a home because child care costs were too high;
  • Still another member discussed how childcare workers are underpaid, and often can’t afford child care themselves;
  • Another member recounted how he and his “buddies” were discussing their family’s child care needs during a “Winnipeg Jets” game and how difficult it was for them to find child care spots in Manitoba for their children.

Discussions centred on broader issues as well, including work-life balance priorities, social and economic rights, women’s equality and human rights.

Maureen Morrison, CUPE Equality Representative and kitchen table discussion organizer, noted how holding a conversation on child care can be exciting and easy to do: just arrange a time and place, and the conversation happens naturally as members share their stories.

CUPE along with other unions, the CLC and coalition partners are helping organize these conversations with members across the country, slowly building an action plan to re-think child care in Canada.

Contact Shellie Bird to learn more on how you can organize a “kitchen table” conversation with CUPE members in your local.