REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Early Years Critic Meara Conway were joined at the Legislature by parents and childcare providers. Together, they called on the Sask. Party government to focus on the issues that matter most to Saskatchewan parents, like getting access to affordable childcare.
“Leave it to Scott Moe to bungle an idea as good as ten-dollar-a-day childcare,” said Beck. “Saskatchewan has the potential to be the most affordable place to raise a family, but this tired and out-of-touch government has completely lost sight of the issues that matter most to parents.”
According to an independent Cardus report, the Sask. Party government only created 37% of the targeted 6,000 new spaces in the first year of their program, despite exceeding the year-one funding allocated for this purpose. The percentage of certified early childhood educators also decreased over the same period.
“Moe’s minister rushed this program’s rollout for a flashy headline and seems to have now completely shelved it to focus on policing pronouns,” said Conway. “This government needs to get its act together and listen to childcare providers and parents who are tired of waiting years for a ten-dollar spot.”
A senior ministry official previously acknowledged that licensing regulated childcare homes is “low-hanging fruit”, one of the first and most important steps on the path to delivering 10-dollar-a-day childcare.
Correspondence between the Moe government and Antonietta Harris, the owner of a local Regina daycare, indicates that the government is moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to processing applicants interested in being licensed.
“I need a timeline so I can plan my business. The government is not fulfilling the needs of daycares or parents,” said Harris. “Parents are being affected the most as there are long waitlists and a limited amount of care available. I know of a parent who has been waiting five years for a childcare spot.”
Nichole Kessel, director of Wiggles and Giggles Childcare Centre in Whitewood, added that licensed childcare facilities have also received little help from the government: “I’ve been to the Legislature twice asking for help and now my childcare centre is closed. This government is not delivering on childcare in rural Saskatchewan.”
Megan Schmidt, director of First Years Learning Center in Regina, said that “we are not meeting the goal of accessible childcare for all Saskatchewan children. We will never meet that goal until the ELCC workforce becomes the first priority of the government. Without a strong, consistent and quality workforce we will never have a successful childcare system.”