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Election 2019: Danish PM candidate refuses to guarantee childcare ratios

Social Democrat leader and prime ministerial hopeful Mette Frederiksen says she wants to see more childcare professionals in Denmark’s kindergartens, but cannot guarantee staff-child ratios.

Election 2019: Danish PM candidate refuses to guarantee childcare ratios
Mette Frederiksen prior to Sunday's election debate with PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Photo: Martin Sylvest / Ritzau Scanpix

The ratios, known as minimumsnormeringer in Danish, have been the subject of a campaign across the country by parents, and a major demonstration took place over the issue in April.

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The union for childcare workers, BUPL (Børne- og Ungdomspædagogernes Landsforbund) recommends a minimum ratio of 1 adult to 3 children in nurseries (roughly 0-3 year olds), and 1 adult to 6 children in kindergartens (roughly 3-5 year olds).

Those recommendations have previously been rejected at parliamentary level, with no majority in support of legislating for them.

Frederiksen’s latest comments on the issue, made during a television debate with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen on Sunday, could put her on course for a clash with the centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF), whose support would be needed for Frederiksen to take over as government leader after Wednesday’s election.

SF leader Pia Olsen Dyhr has previously stated that her party would not vote for a Social Democrat budget if it did not guarantee the ratios.

Frederiksen did say during the debate that she wanted to increase childcare staff numbers.

“I want to introduce better ratios. We have set money aside for this in our financial plan,” she said.

“Our campaign includes a pledge to hire more childcare assistants. We are not demanding standard minimum ratios because we also have other tasks to fulfil in the welfare sector. We also want good schools, better care for the elderly, for disabled people and in mental health,” she said during the DR TV debate.

Dyhr said Frederiksen should seize the opportunity to meet the recommended requirements, with Denmark’s state coffers appearing in a new report to be deeper than previously thought.

Liberal thinktank Cepos has calculated, based on population growth data from Statistics Denmark, that the state will have three billion kroner more than expected by 2025. Dyhr said that saving should be spent on childcare.

“The extra money is a golden opportunity to give the childcare sector the huge lift it needs. It’s time we took the side of the children,” Dyhr said.

READ MORE: All the latest updates from the 2019 Danish general election

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Danish government declines to close childcare but asks parents to keep small children at home

The government has encouraged parents to care for small children at home despite childcare facilities such as kindergartens remaining open.

Danish government declines to close childcare but asks parents to keep small children at home
File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Although Denmark’s national lockdown was further tightened by new measures on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s government has resisted closing nurseries and kindergartens (vuggestuer and børnehaver in Danish, ed.).

Schools are closed until at least January 17th, however.

Some left wing parties as well as a union for child care workers have called for the kindergarten facilities to join schools in being closed, according to reports by broadcaster DR.

The government has said that childcare facilities will not be closed but has asked parent to take care of pre-school kids at home where possible.

“Daycare is open since infections are still not being driven by the smallest children. Childcare should take place in small, regular groups where possible,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

“Parents are encouraged to keep children home from childcare if this is possible. Additionally, the option of using e.g. visors with regard to daycare will be looked into,” the statement adds.

Meanwhile, the national infectious disease agency SSI said on Wednesday that 63,312 people in the country have received at least one of the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

That corresponds to 1.08 percent of the population, according SSI.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What coronavirus restrictions does Denmark now have in place?

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