Hundreds of day-care moms and dads will be getting a welcome Christmas surprise, SooToday has learned.
For many cash-strapped parents, it will be nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
"I can confirm that... we're going to be eliminating all the parent fees for all parents within our day-care system for the month of December 2021," we were told Monday evening by Mike Nadeau, chief executive officer at District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB).
The decision to provide an entire month of free day care on a one-time-only basis was made by the DSSAB in an e-vote taken Friday.
It will be ratified by directors at their next public meeting in January.
"The reason we're able to do this, our day-care system is not at the capacity it was before the pandemic. We're under-utilizing the resources that we have in that division, on our day-care fees," Nadeau said.
"The province has been supportive of trying to develop strategies to lower the cost of day care for parents."
"I just hope that it helps parents out. They've been struggling financially especially during the holiday season. We're hoping that, once parents find out about it, it's positively received."
"We're hoping this is one way that parents can have a little bit of financial pressure taken off them," Nadeau said.
Luke Dufour, Ward 2 councillor and DSSMSSAB chair, added: "This is something that we were able to identify in our budget. We had an under-spend in child care this year. It's paid for, it's not adding to the tax levy at all. It's coming from our 2021 surplus funds."
"We thought, what better way to use it than to be able to give a Christmas gift of waiving all the parent fees for December?" Dufour said.