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The budget for publicly funded day-care centres will be cut by $25 million a year starting Nov. 1, the Quebec minister in charge of day care said yesterday.
Carole Theberge also plans to announce an increase in the daily contribution by parents for day care from the present $5 to between $7 and $10 daily.
A visibly shaken Helene Potvin, president of the Association quebecoise des centres de la petite enfance, told reporters her association, which represents day-care centres across the province, was not consulted by the minister on the budget cuts.
Potvin explained while the public day-care centres are funded 100 per cent by the government, they are incorporated as private not-for-profit companies managed by the parents.
"The money isn't going into the pockets of anyone," she said, her voice rising in anger.
The parents decided to put aside some money for improvements to buildings that may be 25 or 30 years old and are affected by the wear and tear of normal use by young children.
At a news conference, Theberge said she would treat the centres on a case-by-case basis, but she also plans to bring in an outside expert to advise her on "sound management and optimal use of public funds."
She was less forthcoming when asked whether new money for day care would be given back to the public day-care centres or channelled into private day care.
"We want the money to remain in the (public day-care) network," Potvin said.
The day-care centres will have to draw on their surpluses, of between $200,000 and $300,000, and in one case $700,000, to make up the difference, the minister said.
"That's our money, public money," the minister said. "A lot of money was just sleeping there and (day-care) spaces could have been developed with that money."
- reprinted from the Montreal Gazette