Thunder Bay council axes evening childcare program

A tie vote by Thunder Bay councillors Monday night means the city's evening childcare program will cease at the end of June.
Grace Remus Child Care Centre is one of four daycares operated by the city. A pilot program offering evening child care at the centre will come to an end on June 30. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

A tie vote by Thunder Bay councillors Monday night means the city's evening childcare program will cease at the end of June.

During their meeting, six councillors voted to keep the pilot program running at the Grace Remus Childcare centre, while six voted to get rid of it. A tie vote meant the motion was lost. A tie-breaking vote could have come from Coun. Iain Angus, who was absent from the meeting.

A report from administration noted how some parents told the city they were worried they would have to quit their jobs, or reduce their work hours, if they could not find alternative child-care arrangements. That didn't sit well with Coun. Paul Pugh.

"If in fact it's true that this is going to cause people to lose their jobs, or quit school, there [are] long term costs to our society,” he said.

'Reduce where you can'

Coun. Rebecca Johnson said the majority of taxpayers shouldn't fund a program used by only a few families.

"As we would have to have this program continue on for next year [for] an additional $100,000, I'm saying I don't think that that's acceptable to the rest of the municipal ratepayers,” Johnson said.

But Coun. Ken Boshcoff said the answer should lie somewhere in the middle of these two arguments.

"You reduce where you can and, as long as you know the people are still being protected and have alternative sources to go to, then this is how we should be running as a municipality,” he said.

City administration said it will try to help parents find other childcare arrangements around town, but it couldn't guarantee it would find enough spaces to meet the displaced families’ childcare needs.

Council moved to an in-camera meeting to discuss part of the issue, because they had to figure out what to do with the 2.5 temporary positions that will now be lost as a result of the program’s closure.