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Parents ask council to avoid daycare closures

Saturday, May 10, 2014   by: Michael Purvis

Parents whose children go to city-run daycare facilities are asking council to find a way to keep them open as multiple staff reports were released Friday recommended closure for the sites in the face of provincial funding cuts.

“Really, I hope they make an informed decision - that they understand the repercussions, the implications, what it means to the community and to our youth,” said Rachel MacDonald, whose two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Kate goes to the city’s Maycourt Children’s Centre. “Ultimately, it’s an investment in education and our young children.”

Staff are recommending the city get out of the daycare business and that both municipally-run daycare sites - Maycourt and Jessie Irving - be shut down at the end of this year.

The 100 spaces those sites provide, both subsidized and not, would be dispersed to other operators for 2015.

Financial concerns are behind the recommended closures as the city grapples with provincial cuts to district daycare funding that has translated into a 27.5-percent reduction in grants for the city facilities.

According to staff reports, the city, which already subsidizes local daycare overall to the tune of nearly $1.3 million, is expected to pay $578,000 next year to cover the cost of operating its own daycares, plus almost $70,000 a year for the next five years in capital costs.

Rachel Punch, a mother of two who has a two-year-old at the Maycourt centre and a second daughter on the waiting list, said she would like to see council look for a way to save the centres, which she says offer a level of care not easily found elsewhere in the community.

“I think it’s worth it, as a parent. We invest in things like hockey arenas and swimming pools and I think this is just another thing that is important in the community,” Punch said. “As a young person who was born and raised here I don’t want to leave the city and I think this is one thing that makes it a good place to live for young families.”

Jenilee Neveau, whose two-and-a-half-year-old son Hunter goes there too, said she is troubled by the prospect of having to find another facility that meets the same standards as Maycourt.

Neveau said she worries a move would be stressful for Hunter, who has adapted to the routine at the Salisbury Avenue facility.

“I think it would be very difficult because he is so used to all his classmates,” she said. “He’s used to the one-on-one with his providers.”

Hunter was receiving help with his speech prior to daycare and Neveau said staff at Maycourt made it an easy transition.

“He has definitely increased his social abilities - his speech and language,” said Neveau.

Leslie Burtch, who has one child at Jessie Irving and one who is now in the school system, wrote in a letter to SooToday.com about the outstanding service she believes would be lost if that facility shuts its doors.

“Each (child) is greeted with a smile, warm hug, good morning and a keen interest in their little lives,” wrote Burtch. “Each sad morning, or scraped knee and hurt feeling is given the utmost love and attention that allows parents to leave their most important people with these educators.”

The staff recommendations are on the agenda for Monday night’s city council meeting, though councillors may opt to settle the issue at a later date.

Parents are expected to be present at the meeting.

Staff say while other licenced daycare operators expected to pick up the slack should the city close its centre may not provide the same level of care, those centres would meet provincial standards.

Also at stake are what the city describes as 32 “good paying” municipal jobs between the two city sites.

While a staff report suggests many of those people would be expected to find jobs at other operators, it notes they would likely face a reduction in wages.

Employees at the site make between $6-13 more an hour than staff at other providers, says the city.

Those workers would receive severance totalling roughly $400,000 should the operations be wound down and one staff report says that funding from the city would have to continue until those costs are paid.

According to staff, the financial crunch came after a change in the provincial child care funding formula that resulted in a nearly $1-million reduction in local funding.

The District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board changed its funding model to cope with the cuts, meaning a cut of 27.5 percent to the funding directed to the city-run facilities.

A staff report also notes that Abinogii Kinomaago Day Care recently announced its closure due to financial difficulties.

Punch said she worries closure is the only option on the table.

“The report doesn’t seem to offer any other solution than closing it. It doesn’t really look like they looked at other options,” she said.

(PHOTO: Rachel Punch, Jenilee Neveau, Brian MacDonald and Rachel MacDonald stand outside Maycourt Children's Centre on Friday. The parents hope to convince city councillors not to close the city-run facility. SooToday.com/Michael Purvis)

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Previous SooToday.com coverage of this issue:

Letter: Don't take away our daycare

City faces child care challenges

 
Comments
22
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
punkydo 5/10/2014 9:59:16 AM Report

I don't agree with the statement "Staff say while other licenced daycare operators expected to pick up the slack should the city close its centre may not provide the same level of care, those centres would meet provincial standards." There are daycare center's in the city that meet the provincial standards. Child Care Algoma has great, loving staff and they are meeting the required standards. I hope the city does do something about these daycares and others as well. Ontario is losing it's subsidy for childcare and something should be done.
ThinkAgain 5/10/2014 10:05:05 AM Report

The city should get of child care services, we already pay school tax.

I think this special interest group should contact the board of education.

As a taxpayer, enough is enough

If any parent feels its needed maybe they should jump on a good business opportunity for themselves to open a private licensed daycare or a co-op daycare.

The taxpayer's in this city can no longer afford to continue funding these special interest groups/projects.
This taxpayer says "Close it"
trixie53 5/10/2014 11:01:33 AM Report

The 2014 municipal elections in Ontario, will be held on October 27, 2014.
Voters in the province of Ontario will elect mayors, councillors, school board trustees and all other elected officials in all of the province's municipalities.
This might be something these deligates could address in their campaign
eadiecougs 5/10/2014 11:23:49 AM Report

you have kids you pay for them not me the taxpayer.
mister p 5/10/2014 11:27:42 AM Report

@thinkagain

you must be a seventy year old concrete thinking fool. your government sends millions and millions of dollars overseas annually to help other countries with food, shelter and creating democracy.
here's some stats for you,

The top three salary earners among municipal employees disclosed for 2013 were Police Chief Robert Davies at $199,099.83 (up from $193,465.91 in 2012); Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fratesi at $195,741.70 (up from $187,207.53 in 2012); and Deputy Police Chief Bob Kates at $176,341.01 (up from $171,367.75 in 2012).

These three people received in total $19,141.36 in raises over the course of one year. The cost of sending one child to daycare for the year is $5000-9000. So take your tax paying opinion and stick it in your tax paying @$$.
ThinkAgain 5/10/2014 11:50:42 AM Report

@mister p

I agree its all wasted/foolish spending and your point is,...?
Frio 5/10/2014 12:01:22 PM Report

eadiecougs,
With that attitude remember when you are a senior and needing long term care, your children can take you in and look after you 24/7, no need for the taxpayers subsidizing your care in a retirement home.
mister p 5/10/2014 12:29:06 PM Report

my point is to keep you mouth shut when it comes to affecting your neighbour and community when there is a ridiculous amount of stupid spending, people who use daycares are working, trying to be a part of society, creating jobs while working at jobs! Why isn't david O speaking up now, he finds funding for stupid projects that affects minimal people, but yet when it comes to practical and needed parts of society, he is nowhere to be found!
ThinkAgain 5/10/2014 1:00:40 PM Report

Ok, here comes the personal attacks & comment bashing. Didn't take long
BigDaddy 5/10/2014 1:14:28 PM Report

Wow Mister P, not sure where you get the authority to tell people to shut up when they express their concern for their tax dollars. This demonstrates more about you then the commentors. This being said, your logic escapes me. There is certainly some wasterful gov't spending but it seems that what you are saying is that 2 wrongs make a right? How about offer an alternative solution (besides using my tax dollar) instead of emotional insults.

As to the concerned parents, I read alot of comments from this article about the city not coming up with alternatives or other solutions...I also don't hear any coming from you either.
MYPOINT 5/10/2014 1:15:20 PM Report

is as follows ....

TO: The person who said that he was tired of having the tax payer pay to keep these daycare centres open and he felt strongly that they should be closed ...

I wonder if he would rather have the money this city spends on keeping these daycares open spent on our local welfare rolls instead? I say that because life today is NOT like it was when I was a young man and today it sometimes takes two incomes to support a family properly. I think that the city should continue to support these daycares as much as they can. I am a taxpayer who is over 60 years old and I do not mind having a part of my taxes go towards helping the wee ones get a great start in life.

The parents should get together and make this a campaign issue whether those seeking office in this city want it to be an issue or not. If we spend the dollars now to ensure that the wee ones get a good start in life, we will most likely not have to spend them later on building more jails.

Maybe the top three staff could donate 5% of their ridiculously high salaries back to the city for this purpose only. After all, do they not care about the lil ones in this city?

As always, your views may differ :)
Baron 5/10/2014 1:46:58 PM Report

When our children were in daycare almost 50yrs ago , we had to pay
the going rate. No body gave us a special rate . When we wanted to work we had to pay. We were not given any special options. Another problem is in schools, there is a FREE BABY SITTING SERVICE , where the children are a way too young to go to school. 3 1/2 to 5yrs of age.
welcome2 5/10/2014 1:54:29 PM Report

question #1-assuming the city were to stay in the daycare business, why is it using our tax $ to pay $6-$13 more per hour to staff than the average provider?...saying that I do not believe the city centers offer any better level of service than other providers

question #2- why is the city in the daycare business to begin with? This is a service that should be provided by private enterprise. There are obviously reasons that parents of children in city run daycare centers, are so adamantly opposed to the city getting out of that business, and should those reasons be made public, it would not result in an outpouring of public support

I have children of daycare age and my opinion is, the city should get out
ThinkAgain 5/10/2014 2:02:01 PM Report

Maybe our glorified overpaid CAO (JoeF.) can provide some insight. He might be going after another 4% raise after election. (has to train those puppets early)
sanford&son 5/10/2014 2:03:56 PM Report

This is the bottom line... the city has absolutely no place in the day care business or in any other business for that matter. If a need for daycare exists the private sector will create businesses and profit from the opportunity... what's next...Will the city decide to compete against local barbers or local restaurants bc people complain? City daycare pays more than any private entities would bc municipalities don't have to run profitable operations and don't have to answer to shareholders...This is why Ontario is on the verge of bankruptcy... SHUT DOWN THE MUNICIPAL DAYCARES and let the free market work without government interference
firefly77 5/10/2014 2:35:03 PM Report

I have children attending Jessie Irving and let me tell you it is an amazing place for children!! Those who don't believe it's beneficial to keep open have clearly never stepped foot in the building, the staff is amazing with all the children as well as with the parents. I know my son loves going to as he calls it "his school" everyday. It honestly amazes me the bond he has built with peers and the teachers. Both my children have attended other daycares including home daycare and from my personal experience the best place for my children is Jessie Irving Children's Centre! As for the funds coming from tax payers pockets if providing children with great start in life isn't with your tax money then what is?? And yes I work and pay full price to have my children there and no I don't mind my tax dollars going to help other children have the same experience my kids are so lucky to have
eadiecougs 5/10/2014 5:19:53 PM Report

frio I have no kids as for me in a retirement home the nurses take care of me.why is it that u have kids and its the governments duty to pay for child care.Ontario is broke and I agree the sunshine club gets raises on the backs of taxpayers but who fault is that our own.I should get a tax credit for not having kids it save the government money in the long run only for them to blow it away on social services.I feel sorry for the kids because they are the ones who will be stuck with a broke Ontario with no jobs and more plants closing read the paper another one just closed two days ago .If u have kids u should have the funds to take care of them not me I didnt have them u did.
Frio 5/10/2014 10:18:44 PM Report

eadiecougs.. If you go into a public run nursing home, the nurses,doctors, all support staff, medication, food,the building etc. are all being paid for by the taxpayers.Those kids now in daycare will grow up to work and pay taxes but you didn't want to pay your few pennies in taxes to support daycare for them. So why should they be expected to pay anything in taxes to support your care when you are old, unproductive and a burden on taxpayers? Why is it the government, (Taxpayers) duty to pay for your old age care?..If you didn't have any kids to look after you,and you don't have all the money saved to pay for your care, then what makes you think the government should have any obligation to? By your logic, other people and their kids have no obligation or desire to pay anything towards your life either,because you never wanted to or contributed anything towards them.
eadiecougs 5/10/2014 10:32:35 PM Report

thats how much u know do u know what people pay each month at these nursing home 2000 to 4000 a month the government pays a little .I been working since I was 15 so I think by the time I get into one of these homes I well have paid my share of taxes.Your missing the point lets say I go buy a car I dont expect you or any other person to pay for it .you have kids u pay for it plain and simple I dont get GST I dont get a child tax credit or child allowance maybe if they sent me 10,000 a year back for the child they pay for I can support this
eadiecougs 5/10/2014 10:32:36 PM Report

thats how much u know do u know what people pay each month at these nursing home 2000 to 4000 a month the government pays a little .I been working since I was 15 so I think by the time I get into one of these homes I well have paid my share of taxes.Your missing the point lets say I go buy a car I dont expect you or any other person to pay for it .you have kids u pay for it plain and simple I dont get GST I dont get a child tax credit or child allowance maybe if they sent me 10,000 a year back for the child they pay for I can support this
wandering 5/11/2014 3:12:44 PM Report

Maybe they should do like our mom did in our time ..they stay home and raise their own children's instead of sending them to day care
maybe I am from the old school but I never did work
Was always home for my kids and raise them
maybe kids will be doing better in school and in life if they had their mom to raise them instead of been push the door every morning to daycare and been pick up at night time for a quick supper a bit of visit with his mom and dad bath time bed and return to the same routine the next morning
Cannot understand mom this day...if they can get ride of their kids when they were born and send them to day care...or school they will do it..and they wonder why so many kids turn bad..into drug...they are looking for the love they dint receive from their parent sad
BT1979 5/12/2014 11:11:35 AM Report

When will you people understand that this issue will not LOWER YOUR TAXES! Check this out guys...This is a stat for all you uneducated free lancers.

Age groups Both sexes Males Females
0 to 14 14.4% 15.4% 13.4%
15 to 64 66.3% 66.8% 65.8%
65 and over 19.3% 17.7% 20.8%

WANNA TALK TAX DOLLARS!!!!!!!!In that 15-64 year old age group whats the percetage of people who are not working and milking the system? How many are sitting at home and not doing anything to better themselves? Besides the ones who have a medical condition and are well deserving of "NOT BEING ABLE TO WORK" I would rather pay taxes to to those kids and municipalities to better themselves so they don't end up being in that bracket of people I have to support.

HOW ABOUT THIS ONE GUYS...
Parents should be aware that in Ontario informal caregivers are not regulated. This means they are neither licensed nor inspected.

KEEP THE DAYCARES OPEN because of the simple reason that it will benefit society. Also pay those ECE workers what they rightfully deserve because they are hard at work.

I'm not going to get into this that much because I can be here all day supporting this cause while others will just comment based on stupidity and lack of education. That's where the true tax dollars are going. To support those who do not get involved in making society better.

By the way elections are coming up people make sure you read what each candidate is respresenting because your brand spankin new rep could be a lemon!!!!!!!!!!

Comments
22
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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