Feds eye daycare in Iqaluit in hopes of retaining employees

The federal government is considering building a daycare in Iqaluit in the hopes of luring more employees and retaining the ones it has.

Daycare would have at least 30 spots primarily for children of federal employees

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is looking at the feasibility for a daycare near the top of the one-way road in Iqaluit. (John Van Dusen/CBC News)

The federal government is considering building a daycare in Iqaluit in the hopes of luring more employees and retaining the ones it has.

Finding a place in one of the handful of daycares across the city can take years, forcing some families to leave town before a spot opens up.

It's a big issue for the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, according to its regional director general for Nunavut.

"We had people that had to leave town because they don't have a place to put their kids," said David Rochette.

The Nunavut government estimates there were more than 900 names on a wait list for daycare spots in 2015-2016 across the territory.

Rochette estimates employees working for INAC spend two-and-half to three years in Iqlauit before finding other work or moving to another city.

"We expect with a daycare that people will stay longer," he said.

Surveying the land

INAC is eyeing a piece of land it owns near the top of Paunna Rd., known as the one-way road in Iqaluit, as a potential site for a daycare that would have at least 30 spots primarily for children of federal employees.

A survey sketch INAC submitted to the City of Iqaluit to subdivide its plot of land near the top of the one-way road was approved at a recent council meeting.

INAC is looking to extend its property by a few metres, leasing the land from the city in order to build the daycare. In turn, INAC would also transfer a portion of its property over to the city, which is contemplating building a new subdivision around the same area between the one-way and Joamie School.

Rochette would not put a timetable on when the daycare could open, saying the department is still in the very early stages of a feasibility study.

If opened, the daycare would be operated by the Tundra Buddies Day Care Society, a non-profit group incorporated in July 2014 with the goal of running a daycare for federal employees. 

The society is made up of INAC employees, but Rochette hopes other federal bodies like Parks Canada and the RCMP would be willing to join.

New hires

Rochette said the daycare could also help attract new hires, specifically beneficiaries.

"Just to stay competitive and remain an employer of choice we have to go that route," he said.

"If people have no room to place their children during the day they can not go work and people here in town have many children.

"It's an impediment for people to get on the labour market and come work with the federal government."