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Child-care groups fume over allegations [CA]

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De Souza, Mike
Publication Date: 
6 Apr 2006

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Millions of dollars worth of research grants and subsidies to public daycare advocacy groups and researchers are under review, Human Resources and Social Development Minister Diane Finley indicated Wednesday.

Finley made the comments after Conservative government officials spent several hours behind closed doors with a parents group lobbying for grants and subsidies for daycare research to be slashed.

After obtaining figures from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office several weeks ago, the parents group has alleged the advocates of public daycare are using money from government contracts to finance a campaign against the Conservatives' agenda.…

Helen Ward, president of the Vancouver-based Kids First Parent association of Canada, was optimistic the Conservatives had understood her concerns about funding the daycare groups, following her meetings with officials from the offices of both Harper and Finley.

While her own group is not government funded, Ward admitted Harper's office had invited her in for the meetings, and covered the cost of her accommodations in Ottawa for two nights.

But advocacy groups and government-funded researchers were stunned by Ward's accusations.

"It's outrageous that they can make unfounded allegations -- put this stuff out there that's completely untrue, and have it appear that it's supported by the Prime Minister's Office," said Monica Lysack, executive director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. "This is really, really concerning to me as a Canadian."

She stressed her association kept separate bank accounts and strict records for all contracts, while public campaigns were financed by donations.

Lysack also expressed concerns the new Conservative government has failed to respond to numerous requests for meetings to discuss policy.

She said there was more chance for an open dialogue when the Liberals were in power.

"There would be respectful disagreements but everything was above board, and no sort of sneaking around, and suddenly I have this sense that things are not quite as above board," she said.

According to the list released by Harper's office to Kids First, 17 different subsidies and grants worth about $5 million were recently issued by the Liberal government to various groups. In the figures, the association received $364,777 in contracts from the government while the Canadian Child Care Federation received $1.4 million.

But the researchers have also argued that the additional funding is necessary to track whether new programs are effective.

"It's no different than education or health care, if we use that as a parallel," said Don Giesbrecht, president of the federation. "Both of those systems need research to keep fuelling better practice."

- reprinted from the Regina Leader-Post