More than half of Canadian children under age 5 are in some form of child care and the number has been on the rise for several years, according to one of the latest Statistics Canada reports on this matter. In a study done not too long ago it was discovered that 54% of all children were in child care. Significant in this study is that this reflects an increase from 42% in 1995, indicating a trend that is on the rise.

Child Care is described as any non-parental care including a nanny, a babysitter, licensed daycare or care by a relative. And while advocates continue to pressure the Federal government for a National Child Care Program, City Councillors must still be aware of the local needs of young families.

Ward 5, and indeed the entire community of Valley East, is in dire need of more child-care spaces in the form of day-care centres. This is a growing sector of the City of Greater Sudbury. Young families with both parents working is becoming the norm. It is indeed a luxury for a couple to be financially in a position where one of the spouses can remain home and raise their children. But there is a shortage of day care spaces in the community.

We can do all we want with respect to trying to attract people to the area. If we cannot provide for the day care needs of young families, they will not move to the Sudbury region. It is that simple. We must provide the services first, and then try to attract the people to the area.

I intend to do a great deal of work with day care centres and other forms of non-parental child care providers to see what we can do as a City to improve the situation. My knowledge of the education system and my connections with all school boards will enable me to be a catalyst to help the parties work together in the best interests of all children. This background in education will enable me to analyze and provide consultation to the people administering the child care services in the community. This must be one of our top priorities over the next four years. 

Junior Citizens Day Care Services

It looks as if one of the decisions facing a new council in the New Year will be the fate of the Junior Citizens Day Care that operates out of the YMCA building in the downtown. Currently, there are 120 spots with 22 employees who are municipal employees because this day care is the only one owned by the city.

Because these are union positions, the wages are about 50% higher than in the other private day care sites, which makes this day care more expensive to operate. The subsidy for the Junior Citizens Day Care Centre is $6,304 per child, compared to $3,063 for non-city facilities. Staff has begun the process of looking for expressions of interest from other private day care operators to run the Junior Citizens Day Care centre.

Apparently the City can save $129,000 per year by closing the centre and giving the operation to a private day care provider. The number of day care spaces that will be lost by funding cuts will be between 418 and 605. Therefore, the City Council is facing a dilemma. We can't afford to see the number of day care spaces in this city reduced.

Proposal To Maintain Status Quo

I will be proposing that the city immediately enter into a partnership agreement with a private sector provider. The main condition will be that they must use our current staff and pay them the same rate as they are now getting paid. The city will subsidize the difference in rate and in the meantime, we will be transferring the employees to vacancies as they come up in some other department. As our employees are transferred out of the day care, the private provider will be able to hire another person to fill the vacancy. Once all of our former employees are transferred out, we will dissolve the partnership and allow the private sector provider to take responsibility for the entire operation. This whole process may take up to two years, but as we begin saving from the extra subsidy in wages, that money can be used to fund other spaces in the city.

This will satisfy the unions since no one is going to lose their jobs or their salary levels and it will allow us to maintain the Junior Citizen Day Care services to the parents.

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