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City-run daycare fate to be decided June 23

Monday, May 12, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

City council deferred taking action in regards to operation of the city-run daycare program at its meeting Monday.

A decision will be made at council’s June 23 meeting after council members at Monday’s meeting called for more input from those who would be affected by proposed changes to the city-run daycare program. 

City staff recommended council give the OK to transfer 100 municipal daycare spaces to other licensed daycare providers through the Sault Ste. Marie District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB).

That would mean the city would save money, but lose municipal daycare worker jobs.

Steve Butland, ward one city councillor, said the deferral was not meant to stifle debate, but encourage debate.

Butland credited city staff for reports compiled for council’s consideration regarding daycare, but said the recommendations to transfer the 100 municipal daycare spaces to other providers are perhaps too authoritative.

Susan Myers, ward two city councillor, said she also felt there should be more input from all those who would be affected by the proposed change.

“We need more time and input, we need to hear from everyone affected by this, including staff,” Myers said.

Council, in a recorded vote, voted unanimously to defer its decision to June 23.

Myers encouraged those affected to e-mail city councillors with their views and suggestions.

Those e-mail responses will be sent on to Joe Fratesi, the city’s chief administrative officer. 

A March 3 report to council from Mike Nadeau, commissioner of social services, showed a change in the funding formula by the province (specifically, the Ministry of Education) means a reduction of nearly $1 million in direct annual child care funding to Sault Ste. Marie and all its providers.

That led the DSSAB to draw up a new child care program funding model aimed at preserving as many subsidized spaces as possible.

The new model means funding cuts range from 13 percent to 27.5 percent. 

The city’s own day care program would take a 27.5 percent cut in its funding from DSSAB, to be phased in throughout 2014 and 2015.

City taxpayers currently subsidize day care services by paying the DSSAB $1.2 million as the city’s share for all day care spaces the DSSAB funds, and also pay for the two city-run municipal daycare centres (Jessie Irving and Maycourt) and the Best Start Program. 

Those municipally-operated daycare centres provide 100 spaces (51 subsidized, 49 “full-fee”).

A report to council from Joe Fratesi, chief administrative officer, says the new child care funding model drawn up by the DSSAB will mean the annual deficit for municipal daycares will grow to about $578,000 in 2015 to provide spaces for 100 children.

Acknowledging council had a difficult decision to make, the CAO’s report said that “if the City decides to get out of the delivery of daycare services, that other providers will pick up the extra spaces.”

The CAO’s report said even though the city would keep funding all daycare spaces in the community (about 1,000 in all) through the annual sum paid to the DSSAB (over $1.2 million in 2014), 100 city-run spaces would be replaced by other operators if council chose to do so.

City staff reports from the Commissioner of Community Services, Commissioner of Finance and Commissioner of Human Resources in regards to Municipal Day Care Services recommended the 100 municipal day care spaces be transferred to other providers in a “legal wind-down of municipal day care.”

It would be a difficult decision for council to make, because it is felt that even though the DSSAB said it will work to make sure at least the subsidized spaces are picked up by other providers, and full-fee spaces as well, the level of care provided by city-run operations would be better than that given by other operators, even if they do meet provincial standards.

Also, even though there would be a saving of $650,000 to the city annually, 32 good-paying municipal daycare jobs would be lost if the 100 spaces were operated by other providers.

Other communities are reviewing their daycare programs because of the provincial cuts.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
geesmom 5/12/2014 10:30:58 PM Report

It should be noted that the statement: "the level of care provided by city-run operations would be better than that given by other operators," is not the case.

There are many excellent child care facilities in Sault Ste. Marie who also provide excellent care and promote learning and social development. We have two teenagers who went through one of these centres and they are currently in the IB program at Korah Collegiate. These centres are operated as either for-profit or not-for-profit and are able to run their centres day-in-day-out. Although closing the municipal daycares would put a huge strain on the remaining centres, which from what I understand are operating on extensive waiting lists, perhaps it is time to re-vamp the "business" of Municipal Child Care.
BarbG 5/13/2014 2:06:37 AM Report

It is not the responsibility of the city to provide good paying daycare jobs but to be fiscally responsible with tax payers money
IgnorantNortherner 5/13/2014 6:54:12 AM Report

It is not the responsibility of GOVERNMENT to provide good paying jobs but to be fiscally responsible with tax payers money.

There, fixed it for you, BarbG.

We've got 98,000 people in Ontario on the Sunshine List and energy execs all over the place making a mil plus, teachers who are terrible at teaching set up for life and cops more corrupted than those they lock away all stealing far, FAR MORE of your money and you guys n gals want to complain about daycare?

IMO, it is ALL fat to be trimmed (the same services will still be available but you will CHOOSE to purchase them - or not) but I'd have daycare at somewhere near the bottom of my list of priorities (and my family will never use it).
HONEST1 5/13/2014 7:05:43 AM Report

Working families need daycare. The only problem is the city run babysitters make way to much money...
Mr. Poster 5/13/2014 8:40:19 AM Report

My of my how times change. When we had our kids we never once thought of expecting the city or the provincial government to pay for our child care. That was OUR responsibility and we did it.If we could not have afforded child care we would not have brought children into tis world.
Why do so many young families expect taxpayers to pay for their child care costs?
LillyGirl 5/13/2014 8:41:55 AM Report

Im so glad I don't have to worry about this now that my daughter is in school. It really does suck for a lot of parents. Daycares cost me 35.00 a day. A normal babysitter cost me 25.00 per day. So I guess it may be time to start putting ISO babysitter ads up. I know its not the same as a daycare. My daughter learned a great deal at daycare and learned that interaction with other children to prepare her for school. But it is a option.
JenRow90 5/13/2014 8:53:17 AM Report

For some of those commenting do you not realize that although your tax dollars may be helping cover some of the costs of subsidized spots for the "young people" who are having kids, that they use those spots so they can work or get an education so they can contribute their own tax dollars for others who need the spots? (Not saying that all people are using their spots to work and go to school, but the point still stands).

Also for the comment about how "babysitters" are paid too much, I think you should enrol yourself in the Early Childhood Education course and learn a little something about what these providers actually do and while you're at it you should check out the Early Years Study and other reports that show just how valuable early education is and the results later in life. Better yet why don’t you stop by one of the daycare's so they can show you the work that goes into just one day of working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers?
ThinkAgain 5/13/2014 9:03:40 AM Report

Planned parenting should not be a concern to anyone neither should daycare, so thats telling kids its ok to raise kids, and its ok be live on welfare.
So please don't tell me its a way to invest in the child's future.
two wrongs don't make it right.
Great news 5/13/2014 9:20:22 AM Report

Run the daycare as a business. Cost certainly would be higher. Than see how many parents would be lined up. The other daycare facilities would than look attractive.
MYPOINT 5/13/2014 9:48:15 AM Report

is as follows ...

Today it seems that these 'very young parents' having children are getting younger and younger and this has been caused ( in part ) by their own parents who have shown that there are taxpayer services out there that actually pay you to have children. When I was a much younger man, my wife and I actually took the time to plan out ( as best as we could ) the number of children we wanted and we also tried to time their arrival into this world to coincide with our finances being able to support another child as best as possible. We did NOT expect others to pay for the raising of our children - we did this by ourselves for the most part.

Now to be clear, I do believe that daycares are an essential service - for those who are actually working to support their families and are willing to pay for these services. I do NOT think that these municipal daycares should be there for those who sit home on their @sses and merely want 'free' or even 'subsidized' babysitting. To be blunt, if you are old enough to have a child, you are old enough to ensure that you can support the raising of that child without asking your fellow taxpayers to foot the bill.

After careful consideration of this idea of having the city compete with local businesses that are out there already, it seems to me that it is time for this city to get out of this daycare business altogether. To say that these other daycares are not as good as the city run daycares is the same as saying that this city is overpaying for their staff and providing many 'extras' that we, the taxpayers are paying for with our tax dollars.

As usual, your views may differ :)
KTL 5/13/2014 10:52:03 AM Report

Moving 100 spots to other daycares means my child that I pay $42 a day to be there wouldn't have the same attention that he does now. Also 20$ before and after school for other one. Ontario Works needs to stop letting people that aren't working take up spots. I had my kids young and I expect no one else to pay for them.
BT1979 5/13/2014 12:12:05 PM Report

Again here we go with the BS about them getting paid too much. You know who gets paid too much? People who don't do anything! They get paid what they went to school for to get paid. You want to apply for a posting that pays $12.00 an hour you do so. WE ALL apply for postings and careers that pay what we are worth. Points....
1) There are enough families on the waiting list who will pay the FULL amount of the daycare fee per day.
2) Subsidized funding is where the problem is. Re-vamp the application.
3) Where will these people work.
4) The whole economy will be affected.
5) EI will be swamped with unemplyed educated people.

There are stats that prove we need the municipal daycares open. It's not based on what JOE BLOW has to say because he/she does not have kids or they are not willing to pay with their tax dollars. Do you know that closing the daycares WILL NOT affect your taxes. What about the BS thats being funded to be repaired in this city and where the money is going in administration? You kidding. Everyone is hiding behind the "shut down the day cares" model because of the greed and the anger towards everyone else in this city. There is a lot of things that I wish that I did not have to pay for. Its the way its going to be. Daycare will not make a difference in your taxes. Its a small percentage of the big problem. These people deserve to make what they make and it has nothing to do with "if you can't take care of your kids, then don't have them!" Most people have kids because they want them. I work my @$$ off to provide for my family and I do not live the high life but I love my son and it does not mean because I send him to daycare I do not take care of him or love him. How do you pay for things? WITH MONEY SIMPLE CONCEPT...and to get money you have to work. YOU CANT BRING YOU KIDS TO WORK PEOPLE.....I don't know what you guys do on a regular basis but if you sit at home and have the time to bash whats important on here then you must have a real great job THAT I AM PAYING TAXES TO SUPPORT...but then again some people are deserving of their unemployment at this moment. I need my daycare so my son has a chance to make it in this life not because of the stupid reasons you guys make up...get a life people!!! KEEP DAYCARES OPEN...They are people too who work for a living and try to make a dollar to support the rest of the economy....!!!!!
geesmom 5/13/2014 12:39:38 PM Report

Closing these two centres could possibly lead to higher unemployment. My question is : "Are there too many people receiving subsidy who really don't qualify?" What is the criteria that determines who receives subsidy? I assume financials are submitted taking into account annual earnings and debt. We all know people that have debt because of their toys ie vehicles, boats...possessions. There are others that are in debt because they are simply trying to make ends meat; working at a job that may not pay that much. Could part of the process be a home visit to really analyze a family's position to fully understand and evaluate one's debt? Should there be more to consider other than a formula? I would be curious to see how many people really do not qualify for subsidy.
SandraMiceli 5/13/2014 4:40:17 PM Report

I am sitting here reading the comments to this article and am appalled. For someone to say that people who use day cares shouldn't have children is demeaning and ridiculous. I was a single mom with a child with special needs who has worked her butt off to provide for her children. In order to do that I needed help and required city day cares to help me look after my son when I went to work. I paid them what I had too and what I could afford not because I was using my money for "so called toys, like boats, etc". It was because I was working to pay for what every regular family pays for. A home, groceries, lighting, etc. I was also paying for all the extra costs of taking care of my children and a special needs child. I am not a teenager, I didn't have my children at a young age I was trying to make a living and working to provide for my family. Maybe these ignorant people who are making comments should visit a daycare for an hour and maybe they would see how much hard work these women and men do for these children. Also to the ignorant person who said they are high paid "babysitters". My son requires extensive assistance with activities of daily living. These Early Childhood Educators go through a lot of training on an ongoing basis to provide quality based programs for infants to preschool children. Its funny that you think they are overpaid but the School Board recognizes these professionals and puts these Educators in kindergarten classrooms and classrooms all over the district. I am sure there is one in your kids classroom as a EA. You seem to think they are not good enough to be paid what they are being paid working in a daycare. Shame on you! We should ask what you do for a living and see if you should be getting paid what you are getting paid. Probably not! If it weren't for the help of city daycare's some of us could not have gotten to where we are today. Please do not close them. City of Sault Ste. Marie please figure something out, please keep these open. Please!
yomamaissofat 5/13/2014 4:48:31 PM Report

From what I understand, subsidy is NOT the issue! It's the cost/deficit that is the issue! By shifting the daycares to private facilities will not affect subsidies. Just lower the cost to the City and taxpayers. Win, win, no???
Mr. Poster 5/13/2014 5:48:06 PM Report

I don't trust this council to make sound decisions in the interest of taxpayers.Lets elect some new ones.
geesmom 5/13/2014 8:19:55 PM Report would be one who should qualify, not those who take out loans and go into debt to live a life of grandeur and then take the subsidy dollars from those that clearly are more deserving.

Providing good, quality care is expensive. There are food costs which, if you want to feed your child well, it costs more money. As families we know how much fresh, good quality food costs have risen over the years. Can you imagine, some of these centres shopping for and feeding 40 - 50 children 5 days a week?

There is the insurance, which, you want all encompassing coverage which protects the teachers and the students.

There are utilities. They are constantly preparing food, laundering, cleaning, flushing toilets, all during the highest peak of the day.

There are supplies and toys, which cost more if you want something that is durable and safe.

Then there are the wages which from what I hear range anywhere from minimum wage to $30.00/hour, and alas the government payments.

Of course there are other costs that are unique to this type of service that we are not even aware of.

At the end of the day......that is a lot that these centres provide.

At the end of the day it is a business that provides a service to families regardless of their socio-economic status, place of employment, level of education completed. We as a city, as a province, as a country, are facing cuts across the board. If we as a city, province, and country want to survive, we need to re-evaluate business, make changes and move forward. Do I feel these centres must close? No! It is disheartening to think how many families would be affected. Do I think changes need to be made within the "business" management of municipal child care? Absolutely!
Jennie11 5/14/2014 7:21:15 AM Report

Keep the daycare open to people who actually can pay full price for child care and legitimately have a job. Sorry to be so prejudice but cut all subsidy care. Those who show up to daycare dropping off their child or children in their pyjamas clearly don't need child care...just saying! This is the only way we'll save money.
LillyGirl 5/15/2014 8:54:00 AM Report

Jenrow, about the babysitter comment and being paid too much., Re read, That is not what i said at all. I dont think babysitters are paid enough. I said babysitters are cheaper sometimes then daycares
LillyGirl 5/15/2014 8:54:39 AM Report

oops my bad, i did not see the comment above mine :)
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