Nfld. & Labrador

Nearly $200k for Labrador City daycare, but hundreds of children still on wait list

The cash infusion has helped to add 36 new spaces — but the spaces are already filled and hundreds of children remain on a waiting list.

The centre has 93 child care spots, 230 on waiting list

The provincial government gave the Labrador West Child Care Centre a grant of nearly $200,000. Left to right: board members Steph Casey Gallant, Amy Dumeresque, Danielle Gignac, education and early childhood development minister Al Hawkins, MHA Graham Letto and administrator Bernie Mullins. (Facebook)

Staff at a daycare centre in Labrador City are celebrating after a provincial government cash infusion helped them to add 36 new spaces — but the spaces are already filled and hundreds of children remain on a waiting list.

The province gave the Labrador West Child Care Centre more than $195,000 to move into a new, bigger building, which allowed for a new total of 93 child care spots.

"Those spaces, right now, are currently full," said centre administrator Bernie Mullins.

"Right now we have 230 on the wait list."

New building

Board member Danielle Gignac said the daycare had to move out of its location in the basement of a Roman Catholic church because of new provincial regulations that came in last year.

"We had to shut our facilities down and we weren't able to offer the community the preschool program for quite some time," she said.  

The new rules had to do with building standards. For example, the church basement had no windows — that's now against regulations.

"The money that the government is giving us for this basically funds our move over to here. Without this money this relocation would have not been possible," Gignac said.

If someone calls in sick we may not have a replacement for them. - Danielle Gignac

The child care centre also got help from the Iron Ore Company of Canada, who rents the building.

"They were actually instrumental," Gignac said of IOC.

The new regulations might have left the centre scrambling over the summer, she said, were it not for the quick solution the centre found thanks to the mining company.

"They had individuals on vacation globally and they all came together, had emergency conference calls, worked together as a team, and because of their community-mindedness worked with us to get us into this facility."

Staff shortage

Given the number of children waiting for a spot at the Labrador West Child Care Centre, Gignac says the board would love to add even more capacity.

Physical space isn't so much the problem; it's a shortage of staff.

"We actually have a unique situation," she said.

"If someone calls in sick we may not have a replacement for them, so our biggest challenge is resources."

Gignac said the daycare centre can't offer wages that compete with large employers like the mining companies, and there aren't many people who work part-time or on a call-in basis.

"We'd like to see maybe some changes around our ability to have casual call-ins to assists us on those sorts of days."

With files from Labrador Morning

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