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Province backs down on deadline for daycare owners

Nova Scotia promises more time for operators to decide on new funding arrangement

2 min read
a child plays in the snow
caption A student at Bright Side Early Learning Centre in Cole Harbour plays outdoors in the snow. The province has agreed to give private daycare owners more time to consider their options on a new funding agreement.
Erin Angle

The provincial government said Thursday that it would give private child-care operators more time to decide whether to sign on to its new child care agreement.

Private daycare owners hoped the province would scrap the March 18 deadline to decide the fate of their businesses following backlash from them, early childhood educators and parents on a plan to reduce fees. 

Last week, private operators were given the option to join a new central organization in development or transition to a non-profit model in order to receive the subsidies offered by the affordable child care agreement signed with the federal government in July. 

If they decide to opt out, private centres will lose their funding. 

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Private operators, early childhood educators and parents have been writing letters to government representatives asking for more time, more information and more options. 

“We have heard from the sector. We recognize there is anxiety around the transformation that is happening in child care. That’s why we are extending the March 18 deadline so that we can better consult with them about the opportunities and benefits of the new system,” said Lynette MacLeod, a spokesperson for the province in an email on Thursday. 

MacLeod did not say when the new deadline would be, or whether the terms of the agreement would be discussed.

A petition launched on Monday, urging the public to “protect child-care centres and early childhood educators,” has collected more than 7,000 signatures as of Thursday.  

Creating the petition is “what I felt like I could do,” said Madison Joudrey, an early childhood educator at Salmon River Play to Learn Child Care Centre in Truro.

“It was just so great to see all the support from families and parents and people not just in the province, but all across Canada.”

Abeeha Salamat, an early childhood educator who works with infants at a private centre in Halifax, said changes to the “overlooked” child care sector in the province are necessary, but she disagrees with the way the government is approaching the transition. 

“The amount of secrecy that has been involved with such a massive shift has not been comforting. It’s been very scary … we don’t know the future of our centre,” she said. 

Salamat signed the petition because she wants the province to reassess the options given to centres. 

“For them to suddenly decide like ‘Oh, you have like, two months and a bit to decide the fate of your centre and your business,’ that’s not fair. We need time,” she said. 

“(The premier) needs to sit down and hear us before he implements these changes and says they’re for our better.”

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