Daycare operators face new pressures following N.B. gov’t announcement
Daycare operators in New Brunswick are expressing reservations about plans rolled out by the government in recent weeks.
The premier of New Brunswick says his government will spend more on child care, education and health care in 2018 in the lead-up to a provincial election next fall.
The government made three separate announcements in the last week regarding childcare changing in the province.
On Jan. 9, the premier announced the goal of creating 200 infant and toddler spaces by 2020 and reducing wait times for parents.
A couple of days later on Jan. 11, he announced families with children ages five and under whose parents make $37,500 a year or less will receive free childcare.
On Jan. 17, the government said families who make more than $37,500 a year with children aged five and under will not have to pay more than 20 per cent of their income on childcare.
The government also announced for each statement that families must attend a designated learning centre in the province of New Brunswick.
The government says it wants to transform at least 300 daycare operators into early learning centres by 2020. This will involve operators having to sign onto a new plan.
Daycare operator, Maureen Dignard says these changes are unclear.
“I think it’s just pressure because of the unknown, once we know what we’re supposed to do we’ll just do it,” she says. “I do believe a lot of people are already doing what they’re asking. It’s just not put in black and white yet.
The province has given general guidance on the transition, including early childhood education training for all staff and physical upgrades to the building.
Centres will also have to follow provincial inclusion policies to serve children with disabilities. Daycare operator, Lisa Brown says some daycares may not be fully equipment for these requirements just yet.
“When we built the building that our centre is in we didn't allow for wheel chair accessibility so if that is one of the requirements that's going to be a tricky situation for us."
Despite their initial reservations, daycare operators say the announcement will be a good thing for families.
“I’ve read over everything so far and it’s positive for the parents, the children and it’s positive for the childcare care centres,” says childcare worker, Adrienne Boudreau.
The first designated centres will be put forth in Saint John and Edmunston in March and the rest are expected to be province-wide next year.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston and the Canadian Press.