November 3, 2016 5:32 am
Updated: November 3, 2016 5:33 am

Nova Scotia daycare operators call government regulations ‘death notice’ to industry

Early Childhood Education Action Group hold press a conference at Giant Steps Children's Centre in Upper Tantallon on Wednesday.

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A group called “The Nova Scotia Early Childhood Education Action Group” says Nova Scotia’s plan to make child care more affordable is affecting their bottom line.

Spokeswoman Donna Buckland says current daycare regulations, if left unaltered, will result in providers no longer being able to offer high-quality programming and healthy work environments.

“Stop tying our hands because they’re going to put us all under,” said Buckland in a press conference on Wednesday.

Action Plan

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In June 2016, the Nova Scotia government launched an action plan for daycare owners and operators across the province; providing more funding and wage increase for early childhood educators.

But the group says the fan-fare of that announcement didn’t last long when they were informed of the government’s plan to set minimum wages for ECE’s based on education levels and not include experience. They were also disappointed the government would impose a cap on fees.

“This excitement was short lived when we were informed the government of Nova Scotia was implementing a 1 per cent cap on any fee increases. Do they understand that this could potentially shut down our businesses?” said Buckland.

The group also says they aren’t being given enough information about how the new action plan will be implemented and that daycares across the province are being told to sign on to the province’s action plan or risk losing all funding from the province.

Buckland says because of the lack of a long-term plan from government, for the first time she was unable to do this year’s budget for her business.

Expenses

Buckland, also the owner of Giant Steps Children’s Centre in Upper Tantallon, says operators cannot afford what is being forced upon them.

“With our overall expenses going up by 3-4 per cent each year and our fee increase capped at 1 per cent, how long will it take before we must close our doors.”

“It is important for you to know child care centres have many other expenses such as mortgage, property tax, groceries, advertising, supplies, equipment, snow removal, playground upkeep, landscaping, garbage collection,” Buckland said.

Governments Response

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey responded to those concerns on Wednesday. She wouldn’t say whether the one percent cap on fee increases would stand.

But she did say the government is working on a funding formula – and they’ll be reaching out to directors and operators in the next few weeks for input.

“We have to look at the best way to provide the grants to the daycare centres that are using taxpayers dollars through that grant. And the result of that funding formula review I think could have an impact on how we provide that service,” said Casey.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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