Too Many Spaces – Let’s look deeper

There are 72 spaces for 3,000 infants!

We are being told that there are too many spaces chasing too many children.

80% of mothers on PEI are in the labour force – the highest in all Canada. Wages are so low on PEI that most mothers have to work to keep the family going. So access to child care is crucial to enable families and women to stay viable. Here is a comment by such a mother in the Guardian in response to the article on this issue:

“I am very offended by whosechildisitanyway and JT’s remarks. (They commented that mums should stay at home)

Of course I would love to stay at home with my daughter. Unfortunately I am a single mother going to school so I do not end up working in the fast food industry for the rest of my life. It is all good to say that there is nature around that we can play in for free, but the beauty of the outdoors is not going to pay my rent or put food on the table.

I am extremely lucky to have found a daycare that my daughter loves to go to. Her teachers love to see her and she is making friends. I spent a long time on the waiting list but I feel that this daycare is worth it. I have seen some dumps that should be shut down. I do not think it is fair that they should be opened, let alone without competition.

Now before I anyone suggests I stop going to school so I can spend time with my daughter and go on EI (I’ve heard it all before), I have a lot more pride and hope to instill in my daughter the same work ethic. I work on the weekends and go to school during the week with the help of my family and a wonderful daycare.

And don’t worry, my daughter isn’t deprived of love. She wakes up everyday and goes to bed every night knowing that she is loved by many people.”

There are 3,000 children on PEI under the age of 22 months. There are 72 places for these children. Looking after infants is very challenging and the ratio of staff to child is 1-3 making it hard to have a viable business at a cost that parents can afford.

If the law was changed to limit places – in effect – children under 22 months would be shut out.

Now there is an issue here that we can all see – but the narrow focus of the proposed changes to the act does not allow us to think about what to do to ensure that mothers with infants who have to work or go to school can find affordable and high quality places for their babies.

It is hard for a mother to give up her baby at this young age. She does it because she has to. What mother of a 1 year old would want then to settle for anything less than a great place with great people.

There is lots of work to be done to look at the broad issues of the act and how child care affects the Island. But as we stand, the scope of the change and the focus of the department is narrowly focused on the economics of a few owners.

Let us please look at the larger view of the workforce, children, what happens in the early years to determine a person’s life and in the end how all of this affects society and our economy on PEI.

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