Newfoundland Labrador Premier Andrew Furey released a province-wide plan for $25-a-day childcare within the 2020 budget. Starting in January 2021, the province’s already existing Operating Grant Program (OGP) will update, further subsidizing daycares to reduce the cost of childcare for families. During this time of economic insecurity, families are struggling and the high cost of childcare has always been an issue. As of 2017, the average cost for a toddler’s childcare in St. John’s per month was $955, or around $33 a day with OGP in place. This expense increases for parents with multiple-child homes.
As an attempt to make childcare more affordable, the Furey government has released the $25-a-day childcare plan, with $3 million already put forth for 2020 and a commitment of $12 million moving forward, and looks to create 8000 affordable childcare spaces. In other words, families will pay $25 a day for any child and the government will subsidize the rest of the money required by the daycare.
While a move toward affordable childcare is critical and is a recognized need from all, the plan has left some daycare owners wanting more information. Gail Sullivan, the owner and operator of Happy Times pre-school, says that even with the OGP she has been left without pay in order to pay her employees and cover her centre’s costs. While she is happy with the province’s devotion to affordable childcare, she is left to figure out how she will care for children on $25 a day from parents while waiting for subsidies. She also references the lack of accessibility of infant care in the province. Since infant care is extremely costly for both centres and families, most centres, including hers, are unable to accept infants into their care. This leaves a gap between the end of maternity leave and the beginning of daycare eligibility. Paid maternity leave ends after 18 weeks, but children often cannot be taken into care in Newfoundland Labrador until they are 18 months old, leaving parents stuck with no childcare. As an ECE, Sullivan says she loves her career, but struggles to find it financially viable due to her centre’s small size.
MUN’s childcare centre accepts subsidy and primarily accepts children of students, faculty and staff of the university. A representative from the centre was unable to be contacted to discuss how the $25-a-day plan will affect them, but since the centre is a non-profit, perhaps their financial situation is unique from other centres.