'It's the families who are going to pay': Some N.S. operators say the push for $10/day daycare could backfire
Some private daycare operators in Nova Scotia say parents could end up paying a lot more for their services unless the province amends an agreement with Ottawa for $10 a day childcare.
As CTV News reported Monday, operators say the few options they've been presented would either mean going out of business or losing government subsidies.
"We are encouraging the premier to make this right," said Lisa Beddow, president and CEO of the FFL Group of Companies, which operates about 420 daycare spaces in several locations.
The Rankin Government originally signed on to the Federal Childcare Program shortly before the 2021 summer election.
Nova Scotia operators say they were stunned last week to learn they were limited to three options for participating in the program: stay private, become non-profit, or opt out and lose their subsidies.
Beddow says the first two options will amount to pennies on the dollar.
"It's about two per cent of our investment is what we've been offered. And, if we decide to go non-profit, which is Option B, it's about four per cent," said Beddow, who says she's been leading a group of about 194 private operators in the fight.
As it stands, many are leaning towards staying private, and raising their rates to make-up for lost revenue.
Beddow predicts this will make $10/day daycare hard to find.
"It's the families who are going to pay," she said.
Understandably, the $10 goal is popular with parents.
"When I heard $10 a day, I told my mom I was never moving back to the states," said Dana Jackson, a young Halifax mother who's originally from Connecticut.
With a 16-month-old daughter in daycare, and a new baby due in less than a month, Jackson worries about the bigger picture, and keeping the exceptional care her daughter gets now.
"The quality, if that went down, I think I would be super unhappy with our provider for sure," said Jackson.
In a late afternoon statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said government is still working on the file, but made no promises to amend the deal.
"Our commitment to families is to provide affordable, accessible, inclusive and high quality childcare, and we will continue to work towards that commitment through the NS-Canada Wide Agreement," said spokesperson Lynette Macleod via email.
"We recognize the sector’s expertise, knowledge and passion for providing quality childcare. That is why we issued an Expression of Interest in October and used the valuable feedback to inform options for businesses under the new system. In December, businesses were offered $15,000 to access professional services to help them make decisions that are in their best interest. Ultimately, this is the beginning of the conversation. We recognize there is a lot of information to process and we will work hand-in-hand with licensed for-profit childcare providers to ensure a smooth transition so that they understand what these changes mean for their business and how they can ultimately become part of the new Canada-Wide Child Care system."
Unconfirmed reports suggest the issue is on the agenda for Wednesday's cabinet meeting.
Operators say, if it's not, there will be a lot of rough water ahead for government, and ultimately parents, who depend on their services.
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