License more daycares, Winnipeg parents urge province
Closure of Southdale daycare leaves parents scrambling to find new arrangements
The sudden closure of a Winnipeg daycare centre has parents racing to find new child-care arrangements and calling on the Manitoba government to license more operators.
The province has been cracking down on unlicensed daycares since May, when six young children were found unattended at a St. Vital facility that was not licensed.
Since then, officials have swiftly responded to 11 reports or complaints about unlicensed child-care providers taking on more than the allowable number of children.
One of those reports involved Lindsay Stoesz, who operated a daycare from her home in Southdale for three years but had to close it down.
"I was completely in shock," Stoesz told CBC News.
In Manitoba, daycare operators need a licence to care for more than four children.
Stoesz said she was caring for as many as 12 children, but she had three staff members working with her.
"She didn't want to hear about my staff, she didn't want to come to my house or see anything. It was kind of just like cut and dry, like a wall," she said.
Nicolas Piza, whose 4½-year-old son and one-year-old daughter went to Stoesz's daycare, said he did not have any problems with the facility, but the closure has forced his wife to use some of her vacation time to care for the children.
The province needs to do better, he said.
"Try to work with the unlicensed daycares to get them licensed because there's a big gap between what parents need and what is out there," Piza said.
"I understand they're trying to do the right thing, but I think there's ways to do things that are right ways and the wrong ways," he added. "Coming with a stick is not helping anyone."
Stoesz is considering getting licensed, but that process can take anywhere between six weeks and six months. She added that the province told her that her house would need to be rezoned.
According to the province, about 53 unlicensed daycares were investigated last year.
Officials say when they receive a complaint, they help the providers in question become licensed or reduce the number of children in care to allowable limits. Closing daycares would be a last resort, they added.
With files from the CBC's Katie Nicholson