QUÉBEC CITY – On Sunday, November 9, more than a thousand people gathered in front of the National Assembly. At the same time, similar rallies were held in a dozen cities across the province, bringing together tens of thousands of people. The objectives of these events were manifold: to protest against cuts in subsidized daycare, to support the public daycare network, and to oppose the increase in daycare fees that was later confirmed by the Couillard government.
The austerity measures that the government is implementing show that victories won in the past are never guaranteed under this capitalist system. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a mobilization waged by a movement called “SOS Garderies” demanded the establishment of a daycare network that could meet the needs of all people—adults and children. The central demand of SOS Garderies was: free child care, paid by the state and controlled by users.
Forty years later, not only have the just demands of SOS Garderies not been totally met, but few remember that the subsidized daycare network we now have came from their militant struggle against the state.
A 1982 article from The Forge newspaper—from the now defunct Workers’ Communist Party—explained: “The gains won by the movement for daycare are not a gift from the government but the result of the struggles of parents and child care workers. Let us recall their participation in the November 12 national strike in social services, picketing at the PQ convention in early December, the occupations of 16 ministers’ offices across the province, and the publication of a ‘black book’ to support their demands.” The current subsidized daycare system was born from that struggle—a struggle that will never be complete when the bourgeoisie is in power.
We must be aware that the machinations of the bourgeoisie could have an impact on our own movement and demands. The legitimate fight against the new modulated tariffs should not lead us to lose sight of the larger challenges we face; for it is indeed the maintenance of relatively accessible and quality daycare that is at stake. Cuts have already been made in the subsidized daycare network, prior to the announcement of the coming rise of tariffs. The fight against this rise should be considered only as a first step towards the implementation of a free daycare network controlled by users, as SOS Garderies was demanding 35 years ago.
Free daycare controlled by users: this may seem a utopian claim today. If it is not at all utopian, it is certainly true that this will never happen under the current capitalist system. For the child care we need, we must first seize power and overthrow the bourgeoisie. Let’s organize to attain that objective!