Education minister says GNWT will look again at childcare rollout
The NWT’s education minister says his department will re-evaluate how federal funding is given to childcare providers.
Minister RJ Simpson made the remarks to the CBC after weeks of sustained pressure from providers regarding the first stage of a program designed to gradually move the NWT toward $10-a-day childcare.
This year, the program aims to halve the fees paid by parents in the territory.
Some providers oppose the program’s rollout on the grounds that the GNWT imposes fee controls on those who sign up, and providers are told they must sign up to receive any other territorial subsidies – a change communicated three days before an initial deadline to register.
That measure has been likened to “coercion,” while a more general complaint exists that the rollout has been rushed and communication poor.
Simpson told the CBC his department had been “learning a lot” and would work with the federal government to address issues.
“I get that this program was rolled out very quickly and people felt like they didn’t have the information they needed,” Simpson was quoted as saying. “So ensuring that everyone knows the reality of the situation is going to be very important.”
Several childcare providers have already stated they will close in response to the program’s initial rollout.
Kristie Vyse, for example, told Cabin Radio 10 days ago she felt “completely undervalued” by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and would shut down her Fort Smith dayhome in May.
The inability to increase her fees by $5 a day, as she has done every three years, formed part of Vyse’s concern.
A spokesperson for Simpson told Cabin Radio he would examine whether existing funding can be moved around to address concerns about the cap ECE places on participating providers’ fee increases, among other issues.
According to the CBC, he said changes to the program would be announced later this year.
Correction: April 28, 2022 – 10:55 MT. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment says existing funding may be moved around to address concerns, but stressed no new funding was being pursued, as was initially suggested.