Quebec blocks asylum seekers from public daycare network, alarming advocates

Quebec blocks asylum seekers from public daycare network, alarming advocates

Asylum seekers are no longer eligible to put their children in subsidized daycare in Quebec, making it difficult for single parents to get off welfare and into the workforce while waiting for their refugee claim to be heard, advocates say.

The Quebec government sent out a notice to early childhood education centres (CPEs) this spring, instructing them not to take in children whose parents are awaiting a refugee hearing.

That has left single-parent asylum seekers with few options other than staying home to care for their young children. The wait for a refugee hearing can be 18 months or longer, while asylum seekers can often get a work permit within a month or two of arriving in Canada.

“The parents are actually very disappointed,” said Gina Gasparini, vice-president of the Association québécoise des centres de la petite enfance, told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.

“Some of them find themselves in really desperate situations because they have work permits, and they are eager to work.”

Since 2015, some CPEs had been accepting the children of asylum seekers with a work permit, acting on a directive from Quebec’s Ministry of Families.

However, that order was based on a misinterpretation of provincial regulations, said Karl Fillion, a spokesperson for the ministry, in an email.

The children of asylum seekers admitted before April will be allowed to stay in the system despite the revised rules, he said.Fillion noted that subsidized spots are available to asylum seekers, if and when their claim is accepted, and he said asylum seekers are welcome to enrol their children in private daycare while awaiting their hearing.

Full article: CBC