British Columbia

Downtown Eastside daycare to follow through on decision to close

The City of Vancouver and province hoped to find a resolution with Vancouver Native Health Society.

The City of Vancouver and province hoped to find a resolution with Vancouver Native Health Society

Angela Giannoulis worries her husband will have to take a leave of absence from work to care for three-year-old Nikolas, if the centre closes. (Submitted by Angela Giannoulis )

A Downtown Eastside daycare is following through on plans to shut down despite hopes from parents — and the B.C. government — that it would remain open.

The Phil Bouvier Centre — a daycare for Indigenous children run by the Vancouver Native Health Society — has sent termination letters to staff indicating its intentions to close by July 31, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

The move has sent some parents in a panic, and comes just months after federal-provincial funding of $153 million for B.C. childcare programs was announced at the Bouvier Centre in February.

"Parents are scrambling, the stress level is [high]," said Angela Giannoulis​, whose three-year-old son Nikolas has been attending the centre for two years.

​Joint statement achieves little

Last week, a joint statement released by the province and the City of Vancouver emphasized that efforts would be made to keep the space open. Both parties said they were hopeful an agreement could be reached with the Vancouver Native Health Society

Just days later, a notice was posted on the door of the facility, warning parents that children could be turned away at the door due to staff shortages

The notice also doubled down on the group's decision to give up its child care licence.

This notice was posted on the door of the Phil Bouvier centre, warning parents that child care spaces could be reduced due to staff shortages. (Submitted by Angela Giannoulis)

In a previous statement, the group's chief operating officer attributed the closure to strained funding, declaring "the daycare has proved to be incapable of running at a sustainable financial level."

Province responds

B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development says it has reached out to the centre's governing board to outline its recent investments in B.C. childcare, according to an e-mailed statement to CBC News.

According to the ministry, the space could benefit from more financial supports, however, the continued operation is ultimately up to the daycare's board of directors.

Parents are hoping another organization will take over the space and take over the 49 child care spaces. The Vancouver Native Health Society plans to run a drop-in centre instead of a daycare.

"Vancouver Native Health Society clearly doesn't want to run the daycare, so lets find another operator — and move fast," said Giannoulis.

The Phil Bouvier Family Centre was expected to close July 27 but will remain open thanks to city funding. (Google Street)

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