Toronto

Short notice of daycare closure leaves parents in limbo, highlights childcare crisis in Toronto

A west end day care’s sudden announcement that it will be closing down at the end of August has parents scrambling to find a new child care centre, something they say is impossible in Toronto.

Humberside Daycare notified parents on Monday it is closing at the end of August

Annie Vaisar says her two-year-old son Myles has been at Humberside Daycare for one year. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

A west end daycare's sudden announcement that it will be closing down at the end of August has parents scrambling to find a new child care centre, something they say is impossible in Toronto.

Humberside Daycare, located on Clendenan Avenue, is said to be the largest in the area, accommodating approximately 100 children.

Parents were advised by letter of the pending closure when they went to pick their children at 5 p.m. on Monday.

"It's quite upsetting," Annie Vaisar told CBC Toronto. She said her two-year-old son has been at Humberside for one year.

"I spent last night calling about 35 different daycares, looking for anyone who would give us a spot even on their waiting list and find very few people who would even do that for us."

Vaisar said the news essentially means she is "out of luck" come September because she has no family living close by to help out.

We are essentially scrambling to find anyone to look after our child.- Annie Vaisar

She explained that the influx of 100 people into a system that is already extremely taxed is unbearable and unsustainable.

"We are essentially scrambling to find anyone to look after our child," she said.

"The most upsetting part is I waited 16 months on the waiting list for this daycare; and to give us only two months notice is just ridiculous."

Miriam Juarez says has been calling around since she received the news about Humberside's pending closure at 5 p.m. on Monday, but other daycare facilities in the area have a waitlist of at least 50 people. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

Like Vaisar, Miriam Juarez has been searching and calling around since she received the news at 5 p.m.  But she said every other daycare in the area has a waitlist of at least 50 people.

"With the situation, some of them aren't even taking people for their waiting list because they say they have 100 people waiting so they refused to even take my name," Juarez told CBC Toronto.

"I don't know what we are going to do."

Liza Porper fought to hold back tears as she explained Humberside's closure has left with her two kids without daycare. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

Liza Porper's three-year-old son started at Humberside at the infant level at 14 months, and her youngest, who is now 12 months old, was supposed to start there next month.

"So I've got two kids with no daycare and they've given us 60 days notice," she told CBC Toronto, as tears welled up in her eyes.

I've got two kids with no daycare and they've given us 60 days.- Liza Porper

"It's hard not to start crying because it's been very emotional. Of course it is losing the daycare spot but it's also the community that my children are going to miss out on. They've made so many friends here ... It's all my child has known. Kids like stability and this is his happy place."

It was a difficult decision, says daycare owner

Felix Bednarski, who operates Humberside Daycare with his wife Molly Galle, said the decision to close was a difficult one, although he didn't give a reason why.

"We have a really deep understanding and feeling for parents," he said.

"I would hope that parents would understand our desire, where we're heading, because in a letter to parents — we're saying to parents we would like to continue and focus our future work with children utilizing the Montessori location for all children in our care at Humberside Montessori School."

Felix Bednarski, left, operates Humberside Daycare with his wife, Molly Galle, centre. They are pictured here with their daughter, Mia Bednarski. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

Bednarski also said they are in the process of creating 120 licensed child care spaces at the school.

"They would be different ages, from two and a half to six, but new daycare spaces will be created."

Carolyn Ferns, policy coordinator with Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare, said she is not surprised by the news of the pending closure, noting that childcare centres close all the time in Canada.

I've heard situations where parents have turned up on Monday morning and the door is locked.- Carolyn Ferns

She also said there is nothing to stop a childcare centre from closing, especially if it operates for profit.

"Often if a centre finds that it's just not profitable to operate in an area anymore, they can close down; that's the way childcare is in Canada," Ferns told CBC Toronto.

When asked about the 60-day notice, Ferns said she has heard of worse cases.

"I've heard a week. I've heard situations where parents have turned up on Monday morning and the door is locked, that is the worst case scenario," she said.

"It's unfortunate ... and it's something that's preventable."

Carolyn Ferns says there is nothing to stop a childcare centre from closing, especially if it operates for profit. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

Childcare crisis in Canada, advocate says

The childcare advocate said there is a childcare crisis in Canada because there are not enough affordable spaces for families and governments haven't stepped up to deal with this crisis in earnest.

"It's something that just can't go on because more and more families are left in the lurch," Ferns said.

The coalition is calling for government action on three big items for childcare — affordable fees for families, decent work for early childhood educators, and expansion of public and non-profit services.

"We think that it's past time for this. We've heard for decades the federal government promising action on child care but we really haven't seen than come to fruition yet and it's really time," Ferns said.

She said Ontario had started to take steps to deal with the childcare crisis in the province and she hopes the change in government doesn't stop some of the work they have seen happening before the recent provincial election.

"Government investment in good quality child care pays huge dividends," she said.

"If there was a good, high-quality childcare system in Ontario, it helps the workforce, it helps the economy. There's really no reason not to invest in childcare, and situations like this are avoidable."

With files from Lisa Xing

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