Five daycares in Regina are putting pressure on the city after seeing sharp increases in their property taxes. The Whitmore Park Childcare Co-operative (WPCC), paid about $3,700 last year and will pay over $10,000 this year.
Overall, the impacted daycares said they are paying an additional $200,000 in taxes.
“We have to cut our budget and cut our programs,” WPCC executive director Tasha Balkwill said.
“In 2015 we spent over $10,000 for all materials directed to the children’s learning. This year we have spent $2,500.”
In addition to the cut, Balkwill said the non-profit daycare had to increase the monthly cost of care from $590 to $600. She added they may need to add an additional $25 to their monthly price for their 40 childcare spaces.
“The staff, as well as myself, are finding that we rely a lot on parents through volunteerism, support, and donations to be able to keep running a high-quality program,” Balkwill said.
This increase is because WPCC, and four other daycares, were recently reassessed at a commercial property tax rate.
The daycare owners have contacted their city councillors and received letters from Mayor Michael Fougere.
In a letter sent to Bo-Peep Co-operative Childcare, Mayor Fougere said that they are being taxed commercially due to provincial legislation, and the city merely collects the tax.
“This change levels the playing field and puts them on even footing with the vast majority of centres that have been paying commercial rates since their inception,” Fougere said in his letter.
According to a parent group working with the daycares, 18 daycares in Regina pay tax at a commercial rate. Twelve have full tax exemption, and 19 others are exempt due to being located in schools or other facilities.
Rick Fink, a parent whose child attends WPCC, said it feels like the city is passing the buck to the province, and vice versa.
“The city’s actually giving us the bill. They have power under the city’s act to exempt things or not. They did it with curling rinks,” Fink said.
A petition is circulating Regina raising concern about non-profit childcare centres being taxed inconsistently.
The petition will be submitted to the provincial government after the Legislature reconvenes on October 19. It argues that daycares should receive the same tax treatment as schools due their role in early learning.