Edmonton

Lac La Biche parents upset with daycare closure at Portage College

A childcare centre on the Portage College campus in Lac La Biche is set to close, despite concerns of students and parents.

'A reflection of the tough economic times all childcare centres in northeastern Alberta are facing'

Amanda Hodgins and another mother have started a petition to reverse a decision to close the daycare centre at Portage College. (Supplied)

A childcare centre on the Portage College campus in Lac La Biche is set to close, despite concerns of students and parents.

The centre, run by the Lac La Biche Childcare Association, offers daycare service to the children of students and to children of other parents in the town 210 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

The centre will close Nov. 30 due to the struggling economy and rising cost of operations, Patricia Flatla, chair of the association's board, said in a news release.

"This is no reflection on our centre as we all truly believe it to be the safe and caring learning environment for children," Flatla said.

"It is more a reflection of the tough economic times all childcare centres in northeastern Alberta are facing."

Operating costs rising

She said the daycare has been facing financial pressure for years, and that operating costs have risen this past year while the number of children has dropped.

"We're all feeling the effects of a poor economy," said Jessica McDonald, whose three-year-old daughter Sophia attends the daycare. "This is when people go back to school to do a career change so they can keep providing for their family."

McDonald doesn't currently attend the college, but she did during the 2014-15 school year. At the time Sophia attended the campus daycare while her mother studied office administration.

"Any mother has a hard time leaving their child in anyone else's care," McDonald said. "For me, being able to look at her through a window and seeing her having a good time was reassuring to me, knowing that I made that decision."

Rallying to remain open

She and Amanda Hodgins, a teacher, are advocating on behalf of parents and students who want to see the daycare centre stay open. They're behind an online petition protesting the decision to close the facility.

Hodgins, who has two boys, ages four and one, said a lot of the students who use the daycare need all the help they can get.

"This is just one more block for them finishing their education and they don't have the financial means for another daycare, the transportation to get there, or the social network to get people to babysit their kids."

CBC News requested an interview with the Lac La Biche Child Care Association for more information about the closure but hasn't received a response.

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