Around 40 parents, administration and the children who will be affected most, linked arms in front of the Tchou-Tchou and Maison de l’Enfance day care centres in Saint-Laurent on Monday, to protest a $120-million budget cut to Centres de petit enfance (CPE) from the Quebec government.

The cuts would be effective April 1. For the two centres, that accept 80 children each and focus on special needs, that means they will lose a projected $231,000 in 2017. That figure is on top of the $70,000 lost to budget cuts last year.

“We can’t cut anymore. The effect is catastrophic,” said general director Christine Durocher. “Everything that touches the parents and administration will be affected. This is the end of an educational network for us.”

If the cuts are implemented in April, Durocher said that the quality of service for the children will suffer by cutting planning time for educators and resources for special needs children. Even food quality will have to drop, when the cook’s hours are cut back.

More than one parent said they were concerned that the homemade food the children get at the centres will be replaced by cheaper, faster, processed foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt.

“We’ll lose each facility’s director, with that we get a nice family feeling, customized service and we do feel special and part of a family,” said president of the board of directors for Au Coeur de l’Enfance, April Luong. She has two children, ages two and four, at the centres.

“The CPE network has had an amazing effect. It has allowed women to get back to work, it’s had a major economic impact and trying to destroy it is ridiculous,” she said.

“I get to work because my daughter is here, and because I know she is receiving good quality daycare services,” said parent Isabelle Soto. She is worried about the drop in quality for her child if the cuts are not stopped. “It affects us on all levels.”

The fight against budget cuts for the CPE has been going on for over two years now. Final discussions are taking place, but Durocher said the government has not budged.

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