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Shortage of childcare spaces | The fight of “Myriam de Cacouna”

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For parents who cannot find a place in daycare, she is a phenomenon. Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon, who we recognize in the street as “Myriam from Cacouna”. At the head of Ma place au travail, a movement she launched, she now rallies the opposition parties to her cause: ensuring that every child has access to educational childcare services and providing temporary financial assistance to parents who don’t have room.

(Cacouna) Anger


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon and her son, Jules, on the road leading to their family home in Cacouna

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon has chosen a living environment that suits her. By welcoming us to her home in Bas-du-Fleuve, she explains her fight to ensure a place for every child in daycare with the same vigor as the wind whipping the banks. And like the rock-covered slope leading to his house, it promises to be “a nasty gravel road” for the government until it completes the network.

With a frank look and free speech, she answers questions while fleeing the interview to have fun with her 16-month-old son Jules, whose home daycare will soon be closing. Mme Lapointe-Gagnon, who is completing an internship in the child psychiatry team at the Rivière-du-Loup hospital center, expresses the anger that animates him.

“Why are we crying? Because we are backtracking on fights that our grandmothers made. We are going through something worse than what our mothers went through. We don’t have any places,” she says.

According to the most recent data provided by the Ministère de la Famille, 51,073 children are waiting at the one-stop registration desk to obtain a desired place in a daycare service. Of this lot, some simply have no childcare at the moment, which prevents a parent from returning to work. This statistic should be updated soon.

What makes me indignant is the fact that we don’t take enough care of the children and that we don’t give them a place to their fair value. I think we are very hypocritical. “A Quebec crazy about its children”, I think it’s rather a Quebec that doesn’t care about its children.

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon

Not knowing where to turn, more and more parents are writing to him on the Facebook page of his movement, Ma place au travail. And on social networks, as a signal of distress, some beg daycare centers to take them by posting the equivalent of a curriculum vitae of their child.


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon holds her son Jules in her arms while talking with educator Christine Poulin, owner of a family daycare.

Too much pressure

This cry from the heart of the parents, Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon relays it daily on Facebook. Christine Poulin, owner of a family daycare, hears it too. A heavy emotional charge for this educator responsible for six children, including the son of the spokesperson for Ma place au travail. It finally decided to close its doors next summer, for lack of help in the context of a labor shortage in early childhood.

“In a crisis like this, you don’t have many tools when you start to be exhausted, overworked, not knowing where to go to get help. We feel lonely,” she says of her small room flooded with toys while filling the glass of water with a “little wolf” and reassuring another “kitty” waiting for his snack.

In recent years, parents faced with the shortage of daycare places in the Bas-Saint-Laurent have stepped up their efforts to welcome their child into their family environment. Christine Poulin has seen all the strategies, like that of pregnant women who walk in front of her house in the hope of meeting her.


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon at the Rivière-du-Loup hospital center

The phenomenon of children’s CVs on social networks, where the good character of babies is praised, also frightens him. “He’s a child. It’s okay if he cries. But the parents are desperate. It’s really desperation to do that. It’s sad and it doesn’t make sense, ”she laments.

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon, who will therefore lose her daycare in the summer and who, like other parents, is looking for a new place for Jules in the network, regrets that educators like Christine Poulin carry on their shoulders the weight of a network that does not has never been completed since the creation of early childhood centers (CPE).

Angry at this situation, Mr.me Lapointe-Gagnon mobilizes the mothers gathered within Ma place au travail. His movement, which is now transformed into an organization in good and due form, will hold a demonstration on March 19 in front of the parliament in Quebec.

“The government didn’t see us as a movement that was going to have the power it has now. He did not consider us, for lack of esteem. We were nothing but little mothers to them,” she says.

“Little mothers” who came together to “transform their powerlessness into a form of collective action” and who decided that “anger is part of life”. “We will not apologize for having to take care of ourselves, take care of our babies and impose our limits. »

Mobilization


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon and her friend Kelly Sirois, who sits on the board of directors of Ma place au travail, discuss the future of the educational childcare services network in a restaurant in downtown Rivière-du -Wolf.

Kelly Sirois asks that we describe the lack of child care spaces with the word that she says sums up the situation: a “crisis”. And if she applauds the government’s desire to complete the network by creating 37,000 new places by 2025, the one who sits on the board of directors of Ma place au travail is now demanding emergency aid for those who sacrifice their careers. waiting for.

This claim, at the heart of the organization’s demands, will be heard on March 19 during a demonstration on Parliament Hill, in Quebec City. On this winter evening in Rivière-du-Loup, seated at Café L’Innocent, Ms.me Sirois, Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon and other mothers mobilized in the movement remember the path they have traveled, but also the one they still have to overcome in their fight.

Julie-Anne Pelletier is a speech therapist at the region’s school service centre. On maternity leave for her second child, who dozes warmly in her arms during the interview, she worries about her return to work. Will she find a daycare for the baby, while her first son will also lose his place in a family daycare that is closing its doors?

“We had a video this week of the educator while she flatters my guy so that he is secure, so that he sleeps. That’s what he loses. That’s what I’m losing,” she says, her voice breaking with emotion.

Karine Lamontagne, production coordinator, is experiencing the same problem with her son. “We don’t all have the vocation to stay at home with our children,” she says.

“Yes, I’m a mom, but I’m also a professional. I need to be a professional to be a mom,” adds Kelly Sirois, business support advisor and proud to be both a mother and a career woman.

A few days before the demonstration in Quebec, she realizes that it is first and foremost “the crisis” that has united them, as they come from different backgrounds. They have since discovered the television channel Le Canal de l’Assemblee Nationale, have learned to decipher government budgets and promise to demonstrate “until[elles n’aient] more energy, until[elles ne soient] more capable”.

strength in numbers


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon and her friend Karine Lamontagne, production coordinator, who occasionally helps her organize her interviews for Ma place au travail

At the Rivière-du-Loup hospital, Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon’s colleagues describe her as a natural leader. She frequently receives calls and proposals from the three opposition parties. Some sometimes jokingly compare her to Joan of Arc. But beyond the image she projects, the founder of Ma place au travail feels more than anyone else the weight of the movement she has federated, just like the expectations that are high.

“I’m not a superwoman and I don’t want to be a saint,” says Mme Lapointe-Gagnon, allergic to labels, from her small windowless office in the hospital.

Her doctoral thesis focuses on human resilience. According to her, “there is in every difficult experience a way to integrate that into our story and to benefit from it”. Even if it’s difficult. Even when it hurts.

Volunteers and members of the board of directors of Ma place au travail come together with this hope in mind to express their support for their spokesperson. They will be present on March 19 in front of the Parliament of Quebec.


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

From left to right: Milca Bibeau, Carolann Claveau, Johanie Paquet, Karen Bouchard and Maude Caron, all involved in Ma place au travail

“Equal opportunities between children is what has driven me since the beginning of my mobilization in the movement. It doesn’t make sense that some children have access to a place in daycare and others don’t. In my class, in five years, if things don’t change, we’ll see the difference,” says Maude Caron, teacher.

“It’s hard to imagine that my child who is currently learning to integrate into an environment, to bond with his friends, to know his educator, to feel safe, loved, could lose his place,” adds Karen Bouchard, who struggled to find a place for her 9-month-old son Henri.


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon at the Rivière-du-Loup hospital center

Ma place au travail has given itself the mandate to make Quebec aware of this reality. And according to Jérémie Frégeau, father of Jules, lover of Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon and construction contractor, when his spouse embraces a cause, it’s a marriage for life.

“When she believes in a project, when she embarks on something, it’s rare that it doesn’t lead anywhere,” he says.

The Quebec shipyard


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

View of the St. Lawrence River from the Rivière-du-Loup hospital center where Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon is finishing her internship in psychology

• The Legault government tabled Bill 1 last fall to “complete and modernize the network of educational childcare services”. It must adopt it during the spring before the end of the parliamentary session and the start, at the end of the summer, of the electoral campaign.

• Presented as a “major project”, the reform tabled by Quebec includes an investment of “at least 3 billion dollars, including 1.8 billion in new measures by 2024-2025”. The government has also pledged “that every child can have a place” when the network is completed. My place at work demands that this commitment be an obligation enshrined in law.

• As of January 31, 2022, 29,572 subsidized places were being created at the Ministère de la Famille. “Places in realization should be available within 24 months”, specifies one. Quebec has promised to offer 37,000 new subsidized places for installation by 2025. Of this number, 2,105 places have been created to date.

• To complete the network, Quebec forecasts that it will need 18,000 new educators to meet daycare needs. Salary increases of up to 18% have been granted in the network’s last collective agreements.

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