Nor­wood day­care ex­pan­sion in jeop­ardy

Pro­vin­cial cuts could doom 39 new day­care spots at Huck­le­bug

The Peterborough Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - JOELLE KOVACH

A plan to add spa­ces to a day­care cen­tre in Nor­wood may be can­celled and fees could in­crease at eight other day­cares un­less both Peter­bor­ough city and county agree to help with fund­ing.

Huck­le­bug Child Care Cen­tre in Nor­wood was go­ing to add 39 day­care spots, but now that plan’s in jeop­ardy.

Mean­while seven day­cares in the city and one in the county all may have to in­crease their fees next year.

Ac­cord­ing to the staff report, those day­cares in­clude:

> Huck­le­bug Child Care (at their Have­lock lo­ca­tion)

> Cen­tre Ed­u­catif Les Petits Curieux

> Com­pass Early Learn­ing and Care

> City of Peter­bor­ough Child Care and Pear­son Child Care á Strath-Ma­cLean Child­care á Trent Child Care

> YMCA Child Care

It’s all be­cause On­tario’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment has an­nounced plans to de­crease its fund­ing for day­cares.

The pre­vi­ous Lib­eral pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment had planned in 2017 to cre­ate 100,000 new day­care spa­ces over five years at no cost to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Be­tween 2017 and 2020, a to­tal of 424 new, full-time day­care spa­ces across Peter­bor­ough city and county were planned un­der the pro­gram.

Some of those spa­ces haven’t been added yet.

For ex­am­ple, there’s go­ing to be day­cares soon at the new East City pub­lic ele­men­tary school and the McRae build­ing,

the va­cant Flem­ing trade school that is be­ing con­verted into apart­ments for sin­gle mothers.

Those two projects are al­ready un­der con­struc­tion, states the staff report, and aren’t be­ing pro­posed for can­cel­la­tion.

But the eight day­care cen­tres men­tioned above have al­ready ex­panded their spa­ces and were ex­pect­ing on­go­ing op­er­at­ing money from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment — and now they’re fac­ing cut­backs.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment says start­ing in 2020 it will fund 80 per cent of the cost to run those new spa­ces rather than 100 per cent.

That leaves the city and county to pay the re­main­ing 20 per cent an­nu­ally (which is about $435,000 for 2020).

If city coun­cil and county coun­cil agree to it, they can split the an­nual cost: $300,000 for the city, and $135,000 for the county.

Yet city coun­cil can’t wait un­til the 2020 bud­get talks in Jan­uary to make a com­mit­ment — they’re ex­pected to dis­cuss it at a meet­ing Tues­day at city hall.

That’s be­cause the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment wants to know by Oct. 30 whether the city and county are com­mit­ted to pay­ing 20 per cent of the cost to run the new Huck­le­bug spots in Nor­wood.

With­out that con­fir­ma­tion, the province won’t al­low con­struc­tion to start in Nor­wood (which was planned to ac­com­mo­date the new spa­ces).

The city staff report rec­om­mends pay­ing ex­tra to fund the ex­panded day­care spa­ces.

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