Child care spaces are becoming scarce

Already critical, the lack of child care spaces for toddlers has taken on new proportions in Quebec because of the COVID-19 crisis. A situation that could get even worse due to the anger of family educators.

Caroline Sévigny of Quebec lost her home daycare in March. The owner, who suffered from a chronic illness, had to close its doors due to COVID-19. It could reopen in August, but it is not guaranteed.

In search of a plan B, the mother of two 3-year-old and 16-month-old girls is on all platforms. “I look on the Internet every day, I called all the childcare centers, the daycare centers around our house. I have enrolled my daughters everywhere, and there is absolutely nothing. “

Anxious, this nurse clinician wonders when she can finally return to work. “If I don’t have a daycare center, I will have to make an agreement with my employer to have deferred treatment, but I’m not sure I am entitled to it. “

Valérie Ferland, also from Quebec, is in a similar situation. She put her son on waiting lists while he was still in her womb. It was March 2019, but more than a year later, he still hasn’t been offered a place. “I never thought it would be that complicated. On March 8, she used International Women’s Day as an excuse to write to her MP that “it is often women who have to stay at home” and who “lose their careers because of it.” “

Second wave of closures

The duty spoke to many mothers this week, each more discouraged than the other. On social networks, “announcements” from parents looking for child care spaces are common.

In infants, the lack of places has been crying at least since last year in the network, explains Valérie Grenon, of the Federation of early childhood workers in Quebec (FIPEQ-CSQ). “There were some missing before COVID-19, so that is not what will help,” she said.

COVID-19 exacerbated the situation by causing at least 600 of the 12,000 home daycare centers to close for age or health reasons, like Caroline’s, for example.

Gold The duty discovered that there was a second wave of child-care closures caused by a series of problems ranging from new hygiene measures required since the pandemic to negotiations between their union and the government.

The FIPEQ estimates that this wave could double the number of closings to 1,200.

All of the cases listed are outside the Montreal region, where the dynamics are particular due to the slower deconfinement and the presence of more options in private establishments.

Audrey Labelle, a resident of the Laurentians, announced two weeks ago that she has been closing the daycare she has managed with her partner since 2014. “Leaving, it’s already not very profitable,” she explained. on the phone. “We were provided with masks, but not for my assistant. A box of masks is at least $ 45 plus tax, it takes about two a month! “

She also reports that compulsory group insurance “has increased by about 21%”, while “the salary offer that the ministry offers is below 1%”.

There is also a loss of “quality of life in institutions” with the masks, the distance and the rest. “The children can no longer eat together, so all the furniture has to be changed. In short, she had less fun doing her job. “We can’t sing The wheels of the bus on a walk with a mask and a visor at 30 degrees outside … ”She plans to reorient herself towards school daycare services; his wife plans to go to a CHSLD. “It’s really regrettable because I had a two-year waiting list for my service. The parents were satisfied. “

Nancy, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, plans to do the same with her daycare. In order not to unnecessarily alarm the parents, she preferred to hide her identity. She says she is penalized by the new compensation rules for parents who decide not to send their children to childcare because of COVID-19. ” [Le ministre] went back on his decision and we are “cut off”. […] Like me, this week, I have four children instead of five. The contribution of $ 8.75 per day is cut for the child who is not there. “

We can’t sing “The wheels of the bus” while walking with a mask and a visor at 30 degrees outside …

Added to this are the new hygiene-related tasks that take him a good hour a day. “I have to disinfect everything in the evening, the toys, the yard. I tell you, this is terrible. Meanwhile, she continues to receive calls from “discouraged” parents looking for a place. “Just this morning, I had three; last week I had eight. In addition, at the weekend, two of my sisters in the “non-governed” [sans permis du ministère de la Famille] have closed. “

When the health emergency was declared in March, early childhood workers had just acquired a strike mandate for April. They are due to vote on a new government offer by June 16.

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