My understanding is that although there is no immediate danger to the children and staff within the current daycare location, the fact is the building is over 60 years old and no longer a long term viable solution for the day care to use. Since July 2014 ECE have been working and communicating regularly with the YKDA board to ensure that they understanda new location is neededandthe lease was going to be terminated. YKDA has surplus funds that could be used to secure an alternative building. There is funding available through ECE for relocation or renovations associated with meeting regulations. Startup funding, Minor Health and Safety Renovations funding, is available. As well the YK Daycare would be eligible for funding that is available to all licensed programs. ECE does not typically provide infrastructure for day care operations. To date ECE has not received a proposal and/or any further request from the YK Daycare Association on extending the relocation date past July 2016.
With that in mind, I have provided a framework for a response.
1) How do you commit to working with the YKDA in support of its developing plan to find a suitable location from which to continue offering the excellent, competitive early childhood programming and care that they have reliably provided Yellowknife families for 35 years?
Over the next 4 years I will commit to working with MLA’s to establish an inclusive process involving both educators and parents to develop a comprehensive and seamless program that addresses both affordability and availability of day care spaces across the Territories. In the last Assembly, progress was made in developing a pre-junior kindergarten program within the school system as well as introducing a certifiable early childhood education program.
An extension to the July 2016 is needed. YKDA should seek financial support for planning and business development. YKDA should also work with ECE to examine the possibilities under the GNWT policy for government support for NGO Infrastructure. A comprehensive business plan and site development will have to be developed to assist with fundraising and obtaining support by laying out when and where a new YKDA facility will be developed or put in place. The Government is committed to working YKDA to make a decision that works for YKDA.
2) How will you work towards improving the availability of quality, reliable childcare in Yellowknife going forward?
In respect to future support for the YKDA, the solution lies in building a consensus among parents, the YKDA Board and ECE, in finding an alternative space within the existing policy/funding framework.
In the longer term I support examining the feasibility ofimplementing a universal early childhood education strategy. Towards this end, I am committed to putting in place an inclusive process with parents, educators and other MLA’s to identify gaps and opportunities towards adopting a universal early education strategy for the NWT.
Fortunately, the NWT is not alone in putting in place a comprehensive universal early childhood education strategy. This issue was highlighted in the Liberal Party of Canada’s policy platform.
Policy Resolution # 3. BE IT RESOLVED that a Liberal Government institute a Universal ECEC Program with national standards and monitoring mechanisms, by restoring the bilateral agreements of the previous Liberal Government with the provinces and the territories.
In the next Assembly I will work with other MLA’s to develop a mandate for discussions with the federal government in developing a national framework for a comprehensive universal childhood education strategy.
3) What do you believe is the appropriate role for the territorial government in ensuring the availability of quality, reliable childcare?
The NWT Act establishes the GNWT’s responsibility for education. In the last assembly, progress was made on a number of fronts in improving access to early childhood education and in developing standards of care for early childhood educators. Clearly, more work needs to be done.
Fortunately, we are not alone, as both the federal government and provincial and territorial governments are looking for ways to establish a comprehensive universal child care strategy for all Canadians.