Private child-care operators are urging the Nova Scotia government to act now to ease a crisis that could see centres close and parents without anywhere to take their children.
Lisa Beddow of Bedford said she and other private operators are putting up signs around Halifax Regional Municipality with that message.
“This has been ongoing since January,” she said of operators’ push to change parent fees, which have been frozen since 2016.
While private child-care centres are partially subsidized by the province for wages for early childhood educators, the freeze on parent fees is detrimental to the financial stability of the operations, Beddow said.
“With inflation, costs have significantly risen, not to mention wage increases have gone up to keep ECEs in the province,” she said. “We’ve been paying out of pocket, and now we’re bleeding badly. We’re dying a slow death.”
And that, she said, means many operators face closures across the province.
“They just can’t carry the losses anymore,” she said.
Beddow said while the province has told child-care care operators that small businesses across the province are suffering “those same small businesses are not on a parent fee freeze like we are. Small businesses can raise their rates, we can’t do that. With increased fuel and food costs, we can’t operate much longer.”
Operators have contacted the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for help and support but “it’s falling on deaf ears,” Beddow said. “I’ve reached out to the premier, he assures me it’s at the top of his mind, but we’re not seeing any results at all from the department.
She said the sign campaign “is a reminder to our premier that we need his help, and this is going to be a serious crisis for Nova Scotians across the province when they’re not able to go to work because they have no child care.”
Demand for child-care spaces “is so significant we can’t keep up,” Beddow said. “Because of the costs, centres are closing, which is making demand an even bigger issue.”