Liberals criticize province’s target of 9,500 childcare spaces by 2026

MLA Maguire says target unrealistic, pushes for more information

2 min read
caption Elwin LeRoux, deputy minister of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, talks to reporters after Wednesday's meeting.
Megan James

It will be a “miracle” if the Progressive Conservative government reaches its goal of establishing 9,500 subsidized child care spaces in Nova Scotia over the next two years, says Liberal MLA Brendan Maguire.

At a public accounts committee meeting at Province House on Wednesday, Elwin LeRoux, who is deputy minister of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, announced the government’s target for childcare spaces by March 2026.

LeRoux said the Canada Wide Child Care Agreement for Nova Scotia, signed in 2021, seeks to provide affordable and accessible childcare, providing incentives to workers such as benefits and pensions, building more centres for childcare and providing grants for family home providers.

But Maguire said he is not confident every child who needs one will have a child care spot by 2026.

“Infants and toddlers are being left behind,” he said.

There are currently over 22,000 children in childcare in the province. The number of children on waiting lists for childcare is unknown.

Pam Aucoin, the Department of Education’s executive director of early learning and child care, said “there is at this time no centralized waitlist function for individuals that are looking for early learning and childcare spaces.”

Maguire contrasted this to waitlists for housing and family doctors, saying it is easy to find data on those concerns.

Reducing childcare rates

By 2026, the province plans to reduce childcare rates to an average of $10 per day. Currently, the average childcare rate is $36 per day.  

Eligible Nova Scotian families can apply for a childcare subsidy to help with costs.

With the province’s goal of doubling its population by 2060, Maguire said the numbers do not add up.

“Kids are aging out before they get a daycare space,” said Maguire. With only a little over two years to achieve their goal, Maguire said “it won’t be a marathon, it’ll be a miracle” if this goal is achieved.

He said that when parents are unable to find childcare, they are unable to re-join the workforce, which is mostly seen in women and single-parent households.

Since the agreement was signed in 2021, 3,861 childcare spaces have opened. In this time, 1,031 spaces have closed.

When Maguire asked how many of the closed spaces were for infants and toddlers, LeRoux said that they would find that data after the meeting.

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About the author

Megan James

Megan is a bachelor of journalism student from Enfield, Nova Scotia.

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