PRINCE GEORGE – When the College of New Caledonia board announced in March that it was laying off CUPE members and closing the daycare because it “wasn’t viable”, the college community sprang into action.
“Members were concerned about their jobs, but they were more concerned about the impact on the community of losing this centre,” said CUPE 4951 president Lily Bachand, “And that is a powerful, powerful message.”
Students from the Early Childhood Education program (ECE), program faculty, the students’ union and CUPE 4951 set up a plan to save the daycare. The group decided to make a presentation at the board’s April meeting – less than three weeks away.
The group met constantly and worked to keep the issue in the local media. CUPE 4951 began crunching numbers. They put together a business plan that increased the number of children served from 16 to 24 and saw the daycare opening for 10 months instead of eight, with themed summer camps for July and August.
ECE students went to their local TV station, contacted newspapers and set up a “Save CNC Childcare Centre” Facebook page. People contacted their MLAs and wrote letters to the editor. The campaign was a collaboration of students and workers at the daycare, parents, and members of the Prince George community.
“The ECE program isn’t a regular daycare”, says Bachand, noting that the College is one of only two centres in British Columbia where ECE students can observe children, and put into practice what they are learning.
“That kind of facility is something you cannot touch,” said Bachand.
The board agreed to give the business plan a chance and has given the Local until September 2015 to make the daycare viable, at which time it will be taken off the chopping block.
“The provincial government needs to see that they’re cutting the values of what community education is,” says Bachand, placing the blame on continued cuts to college funding. “As a community college we are a vital part of the community, and as such we’ve got to see the value of the community in everything we do.”
Watch CKPG coverage on the issue: