Child care centres across Nova Scotia are now facing a funding crisis that threatens to undermine the viability of the entire sector. Premier McNeil told families that their child care spots would be held for them once the economy reopened. However, his government has committed to only funding half of those spots leaving child care centres to foot the bill for any spots that they cannot fill.
“We are hearing from workers across the province that many centres have already issued layoff notices, and that not many expect they will be able to secure enough children to balance their books before September,” says Margot Nickerson, president of the Early Childhood Educators of Nova Scotia and CUPE 4745. “Our child care centres need the government to show leadership and take action today.”
According to data from a recent survey with more than 300 child care centre representatives responding, Nova Scotia centres are operating on average at around 33% capacity; 55% of those who answered the survey said they anticipated layoffs at their centre due to inadequate uptake of available spaces.
“Capping COVID-related public assistance at 50% of parent fees leaves a huge proportion of child care centres with significant budget shortfalls. This level of funding is not enough to keep centres afloat, and we fear a collapse if Government doesn’t act now,” says Naomi Stewart, CUPE NS child care sector coordinator.
CUPE early childhood educators (ECEs) are calling for the provincial government to deliver on their promise that every spot that a parent had will still be there after the pandemic. Premier McNeil needs to step in and fund child care centres in order to prevent Nova Scotia centres from closure.
“This is an opportunity for government to take an enormous financial burden off of families by accepting responsibility for the majority of the costs associated with early learning and child care,” says Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia.