A month into the province’s new child-care fee reduction program, government staff are logging plenty of extra hours to keep up with the demand.
Staff have worked 1,380 overtime hours processing new child-care fee reduction contracts since mid-March. That’s when the province had initially set its deadline for providers to opt into the new program.
That’s the equivalent of hiring an additional seven-and-a-half people for that time period.
But with overtime paid at time-and-a-half for the first couple of hours and double-time after that or on extra days, it likely cost a lot more.
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About 1,800 of the 2,850 child-care providers eligible to take part in the province’s fee-reduction program wanted to opt in.
Staff have processed nearly 1,300 contracts so far. The province has also faced complaints of delays in payments and a lack of communication.
The program is open to licensed daycares providing full-time care for infants and toddlers.
Reaction from child-care providers to hiccups in the rollout has been mixed.
Pat Frouse, who had her application and money slightly delayed, told Global News she hasn’t been bothered by the snags.
“It’s been smooth sailing with them even with the delay. I was worried that the push-back would come to the operator when there was a delay but I got nothing,” she said.
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She says once the kinks are worked out, the new system will make the monthly process for funding easier.
But Patricia Kuhiling, who received her funding earlier than most says she regrets taking part.
She said she felt strong-armed, with no choice but to opt in.
“We’re going to hope for the best, we are staying positive, this helps our families, let’s see what comes. But I have very little faith in any other part of the plan.”
Kuhiling added that the opt-in program imposes strict rules on her business that she worries will affect her ability to raise fees in the future if it’s economically necessary.