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Province excited to move forward on affordable child care; NDP slams daycare rollout

Province remains committed to original plan; NDP leader Gary Burrill calls rollout a 'mess'

3 min read
caption Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan assured private operators there’s room for them in the current plan.
Kaija Jussinoja

The province is “very excitedly progressing along that path to the new Canada-wide universal childcare system,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan in a post-cabinet scrum on Thursday. 

Nova Scotia’s bilateral child care agreement promises $10 a day daycare, 9,500 new non-profit child-care spaces and higher salaries for child-care workers by 2026.

The new system will be run by a centralized organization being developed by the Department of Education. 

In response to backlash from the private sector, last week the province agreed to reassess the options given to private daycare owners (join the new central organization, transition to a non-profit model or opt out and give up funding) and scrapped the March 18 decision deadline. 

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Druhan said private operators have “space and opportunities” within the current agreement and anticipates that consultations with private operators will result in “a path for further inclusion” in the existing plan. 

“We’re continuing our conversation with operators as well and we’re really excited and pleased with the feedback that we’re hearing as we have those individual and group conversations about the future for our private operators within our system,” she said. 

Daycare owners submitted a proposal for a revised plan to the department on Saturday, but have not heard back from them for a meeting, said Donna Buckland, chair of the Nova Scotia Childcare Education Action Group in a text.

Much of the frustration from private operators comes from giving control of their businesses to the central organization, about which few details are available. 

Druhan said the organization is in the consulting and feedback stage, and more information will come in the spring. 

NDP leader Gary Burrill says rollout a ‘debacle and a mess’

caption NDP Leader Gary Burrill criticized the government’s implementation of the new affordable childcare plan.
Kaija Jussinoja

The NDP has long called for universal affordable child care, but the ultimatum given to private operators earlier this month was “disrespectful, non-consultative and did not provide the room by which a path could be made towards the goal of the agreement,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill in a video call on Thursday. 

“I think it is a good thing that the government recognized what a complete botch they had made of the first chapter of the implementation, and it is to be hoped that there is major improvement in chapter two,” he said. 

Burrill cited Prince Edward Island’s transition to universal public child care, in which the private sector gradually became part of the new system, as an example of how to do it right. 

“This requires respect and information and a great deal of consultation,” he said. 

“I think that the government launched into this without any kind of an understanding of the intricacy and the multi-sidedness of child care in Nova Scotia, and that’s why they made such a botch.”


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