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2014-03-10 at 15:54

Fighting for daycare

Breanna Atkinson, whose children are both younger than four, says if the city closes its daycare facilities she’s worried she’ll have to lessen her work hours in order to take care of them. She’s concerned about lengthy waiting lists at private daycare facilities.
Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Breanna Atkinson, whose children are both younger than four, says if the city closes its daycare facilities she’s worried she’ll have to lessen her work hours in order to take care of them. She’s concerned about lengthy waiting lists at private daycare facilities.
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By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

Breanna Atkinson says if the city shuts down its daycare facilities, she might have to stop working or drastically reduce her hours.

The mother-of-two on Monday began a push to convince city councillors and administration to put aside thoughts of getting out of the daycare game, starting an online petition at Change.org she hopes to present before a decision is made.

Atkinson also started a Facebook page, For Our Children, late last week.

“I started it just to inform parents and other people in the city of what city council is talking about doing to our city-run daycare programs, and that is to cut them, essentially. That’s not what we need. We need a change, not a cut.”

Atkinson said she fears closing the facilities would mean she and other parents could be faced with lengthy waiting lists for spots in private facilities.

According to a report presented to council last month during budget deliberations, city daycare facilities are expected to lose about $3,250 per day, about $500 more than they lost per day in 2013. That amounts to about $774,000 over the course of a year.

Atkinson, whose children are both younger than four, said she passed up several opportunities to put her children in private daycare centres because of the convenience of the Algoma Child Care Centre, which is just down the street from where she works as a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The city facility also offers extended hours, early drop-off and late pick-up options, something she needs as a shift worker.

It’s a quality of life issue, she added.

“I would have no expendable money to take my kids to do things,” Atkinson said, worried about having to return to part-time work.

Danielle Legacy was one of the first people to sign Atkinson’s petition, which at last count had 14 signatures.

“My children attend this daycare and I need this service,” she said.

Mayor Keith Hobbs has openly said he doesn’t think the city should be in the day-care business, but added now isn’t the time to get out, with 278 families utilizing the service.
“What’s going to happen to those families?” Hobbs was quoted as saying at the time.
Not all councillors agreed.

At-large Coun. Rebecca Johnson was adamant municipal taxpayers shouldn’t have to cover the shortfall, and asked that Thunder Bay follow the lead of other Ontario cities in pulling out of the day-care industry.

“If Kenora can do it, so can Thunder Bay,” she said last month.

Earlier this month council did vote against extending a child-care pilot program at Grace Remus, which is slated to close by June, according to the city budget. Only 15 children attended the program, which was slated to cost the city more than $90,000 before it was axed.

Atkinson said she plans to voice her concern at council when the issue is brought up later this spring and hopes enough people sign her online petition to force council to listen. She also plans to bring hard copies of her petition to local daycares for concerned parents to sign.

She suggested city daycares could consider taking in younger children to help make up the financial shortfall. At present children must be at least 18 months old to qualify.


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Comments

We've improved our comment system.
Ozone says:
Time for the taxpayer to stop subsidizing your babysitting. Sorry but enough is enough.
Child are and the million dollar subsidy by the local tax base has to end. 274 children are in daycare costing the local tax payer 1million dollars never mind the liabilities !

The city should not have and should never be in this business.
Let the private sector provide this service.

3/10/2014 4:10:47 PM
The Critic says:
I agree with you, but it is too bad that during these exceedingly rare moments of fiscal responsibility the city sometimes has we will never see a tax rate decrease.
3/10/2014 5:26:30 PM
JustSayingPleaseThanks says:
This isn't a free service. People pay to use this service and pay just as much as a private daycare in most cases (esp working families). This is just a great and safe place/option for parents who don't work standard work hours as mentioned above or like the options they offer. I don't think this person is arguing against the fact that this program needs to CHANGE in order to stop costing tax payers dollars. This program seems to be mismanaged (when there is a waiting list and it is under-utilized? makes no sense) and in order to ensure that tax paying citizens who use this service can continue to work the City should consult with families and taxpayers and look for options instead of just cutting it. NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT FREE BABYSITTERS. The City has no problem giving money to companies and financing studies but they should consult on something like this. No one is talking free or wants to pay$1-million out of pocket. Read before you generalize and have meaningful discussion.
3/10/2014 8:56:44 PM
Brutus02 says:
Absolutely correct, the City has to concentrate on subsidizing the golf courses, a new arena, shelter house, and addictions facilities. No need to assist the working class who pay the majority taxes in this city.
3/11/2014 1:08:15 AM
Sandwiches1123 says:
Technically this could be viewed as subsidizing an already subsidized service.

Thunder Bay DSSAB offers day nursery subsidy to families based on their income.

By the City being in the day care business, the taxpayers are funding those families with a subsidy on both ends.

I don't care whether or not the City stays in the day nursery business or not but it shouldn't lose money. Private day nurseries do not lose money or they would go our of business.

It would seem that somewhere along the way, the City day nurseries go out of line with private industry.

I would suggest that the City look to the private system to determine where savings might exist. Allow the private industry to set the market rather than having the public funds determine the market.
3/11/2014 8:45:35 AM
enos012 says:
This is not a quality of life issue! We have 'changed' the so called quality over years. This is about how society has chandged over the past 50 years. Families were able to get by with one working individual. Women for for right(no i don't have any issues with that) But business being busines increased the cost and made projections based on the new 'average' working family. As times and values keep changing. Until you start picking aprt society and start using common sense...that goes for over priced 'stars' peoples poor spending habits, wanting more while people still starve on the streets, the aging population, the city paying for benefits for something that wasn't 'projected' 50 years ago...I don't recall my parents putting me into some sort of service. There used to be families that 'helped' or daytime babysitters. If the city is losing money CUT IT!
3/10/2014 4:18:39 PM
JustSayingPleaseThanks says:
And event centre is a 'quality of life' issue over children having safe day care? (one which might i add that is already projected at losing a million a year?) Over the employees who work for these daycares and will likely lose their job over this? Over families (single parents or not) with small children who work and depend on this and will now potentially be without daycare? Over golf courses which are a 'quality of life' issue over this? There are a lot of services we can pick on and cut and maybe this one is an easy one but to say 'child care' isn't a 'quality of life service' there are a ton of arguments that could counteract that statement. And at the very least people should get options that allow them to not be left out in the cold. because it cost money. I'm not saying it shouldn't be cut but people shouldn't generalize because 'quality of life' services are not all black and white as we have seen.
3/10/2014 9:05:11 PM
funinthesun says:
Has ReGen Med ever paid any of our taxpayers money back? Maybe this money could be used to finance day care for awhile until other alternatives are put in place for parents requiring day care.
3/10/2014 4:40:51 PM
tudor says:
This is what I think may happen. The city will stop providing day care services. They will then say it is a provincial responsibility and when people complain, they will say the province will do it. Then if the province actually does provide the money, people will complain and say it is not enough. I say this because the city of Thunder Bay did exactly that to our seniors

The city announced they would be closing the two senior facilities. 300 long term care beds. The province stepped in and funded every dime of 300 new long term beds that are under construction. And all people do is bust their chops because they are only giving us 300 beds and not more. There is never any criticism of the city for abandoning seniors only the province who is paying the 100 million for the building and all operating costs. The city has 30 million for Marina, 30-40 mil for a multi-plex but no money for seniors and children. And we are just supposed to go along with it without complaint or question
3/10/2014 4:56:51 PM
unheard says:
rather tax money go towards daycare then meth clinics
3/10/2014 5:12:42 PM
Ed itw says:
Pay the cost to raise your own kids.

3/10/2014 7:16:39 PM
Reignmaker says:
Which every person using this service does. IF you know nothing about how it works, you shouldn't speak out. This is the problem with the decisions being made about these services, people who have no children are saying we don't need it. I know for a fact that that "report" about Grace Remus is not right given that there are more than fifteen unique children in the service. There are sometimes fifteen children there per night. That is fifteen families who will have do something else. with no other night programs available, what do they do? Council doesn't care because they are too busy planning for wasted art projects and event centres to give a care about their actual constituents. How are we inviting to outside people when we keep funding junk and cutting funding for things that young people will need like daycare?
3/11/2014 10:57:13 AM
Conker2012 says:
On the same note, then close all seniors homes. SAVE FOR YOUR RETIREMENT. Same argument.

The advantage of public daycare is that is allows single parents and low income families both work so they can afford to live outside social housing. Personally I think we should be expanding daycare so that more families can afford a better quality of life. IF it costs $50 a day,per child, the cost to tax payers is between .25 and .10 dollars per person per year...... buy one less tim bit a year and help a family for a year.
3/11/2014 3:29:17 PM
SomeGuy says:
The city should not be providing child care. If we require assistance with paying for Childcare then it should go through social services which can then help offset your cost with a private provider.

Are the city rates comparable to private rates? IF we are loosing $774,000 a year it's time to have a serious look at the business model that our city's day care uses.
3/10/2014 7:42:29 PM
Brutus02 says:
Since when does the City of Thunder Bay ever use a business model for any decision/liability it passes on to the taxpayer? Give your head a shake!
3/11/2014 1:10:45 AM
pc says:
The province (tax payers) are already providing day care. It is called all day kindergarten from the age of 3 for some children.
If you want children then you can anti up for their care while you work for the first 3 years of their life.
Don't say you cannot raise a family on one salary because I know this is not true. My husband and I did it.
You want children then pay for them.
Give up a few toys and vacations in Florida and spend time exploring less expensive options. You want the toys and vacations then don't have children. Get a guppy instead.
3/10/2014 10:03:50 PM
progress now says:
Interesting comment:

"Mayor Keith Hobbs has openly said he doesn’t think the city should be in the day-care business, but added now isn’t the time to get out, with 278 families utilizing the service.
“What’s going to happen to those families?” Hobbs was quoted as saying at the time."

Its tough when reality gets in the way of your personal philosophy.

Take a position please.
3/10/2014 11:31:27 PM
TBDR says:
he did take one. He voted against the closure.
3/11/2014 10:16:30 AM
cm punk says:
Ms. Atkinson, please find a way yourself to provide care for your children
I don't think taxpayers should be responsible.
Its not our problem
3/11/2014 7:51:48 AM
A mom2 says:
Is it common knowledge how much a parent pays for daycare facilities in Thunder Bay? It ranges from 42-60 dollars a day, per child. It's not so easy to just go through social services, I've been on the wait list for almost 2 years with not one opening for my child. My family doesn't "buy toys and vacation in Florida" we are just a regular family trying to get by and it is not the same as it used to be when our parents had children. I'm not educated enough on the subject either but that doesn't mean that a mom shouldn't try to advocate for her family. Anyone who can lash out at this mother who is just worried about what is going to happen to her family and her career must not have any idea what it feels like to be a struggling parent in today's society.
3/11/2014 9:19:23 AM
pc says:
I don't think anyone is lashing out at this woman. They are lashing out at what this woman wants.
She wants to have the city continue to fund day care which is losing money.
Tax payers are tired of paying for things that should be an individuals responsibility.
Like golf courses, day care, day camps.
There are ways so you can cut down on day care use or eliminate it altogether.
I have one child with 3 children. They had to rely on day care due to the jobs out of town.
I have another who gave up his job and made a job for himself on-line. He is home with his daughter while working so they do not need day care all that often.
I was a stay at home mom and was called nasty names because I didn't WORK, well that was my career and my husband and I made it work.
Sit down and figure out your costs versus your salary and see if it makes sense to continue working or could you stay at home and raise your children.
No I am not mean hating working women I am tired of paying for your children
3/11/2014 3:11:50 PM
progress now says:
A very thoughtful post.

I know of one person at least who made the kind of calculations you speak of and decided not to go to work. Of course everyone's situation is different.

Deciding to have children is the ultimate choice. There are many wonders associated with parenthood - and problems too. Perhaps Ms. Atkinson's will work out.
3/11/2014 4:51:05 PM
octane says:
When should the city get out of this?
Is there every going to be a good time?
Parents need to take responsibility for their own kids and not lay it on the tax payers.
If you have to work at night, get a babysitter like so many other parents have done over the past decades.
Where do these parents think they get the right to demand the city provide child care so that they can work at night??
Seriously??
Maybe these parents should have thought about that before they got pregnant.
3/11/2014 10:10:46 AM
bttnk says:
Any cut to city run daycares would likely be filled with the addition of licensed private daycares. What Mrs. Atkinson is saying is she doesn't want the Algoma Street location closed because it is convenient for her. Her is a thought, why doesn't the city actively look to transfer the daycares to private run facilities. Surely they can find someone or an existing entity that would be willing to take over the service and who would likely turn a profit.

Though I am sure that Mrs Atkinson would be against that too because rates would increase and she probably prefers that taxpayers foot some of the bill. Families can already apply for a child care subsidy that is tied to income over and above the $100 per child, per month that the government already gives each family.
3/11/2014 10:23:21 AM
terwilliger says:
This council wants to get out of the daycare business the golf course business. They should get out of the operating a city business.
3/11/2014 11:21:36 AM
my 2 cents says:
@ progress
I tend to take the other side of it and appreciate the empathy displayed by the mayor. He can logically see (on this issue) that city run daycare is not economically viable, but recognizes that the families deserve consideration in this as well. Either choice on this issue is not a good one. But I appreciate the mayor viewing this from multiple perspectives. Sadly, something that is lacking in many postings on this site.
3/11/2014 12:37:41 PM
Sinjo says:
Why dont the parents form a co-operative where they can have a bulletin board where they have times when they need their kids watched and watch other parents when they need their kids watched.
Working together to achieve the same goal.
Or instead of working just stay at home and watch other peoples kids for them.
3/11/2014 2:18:28 PM
varga says:
Maybe the people commenting here that know absolutely nothing about the issue should pay more attention to what comes out of their own mouths. If a private company can turn a profit on these facilities why can't the city? Restructuring the childcare system to run more efficiently and more like a business should not be that hard with taxpayer subsidization. The result would be a money maker instead of a deficit. It is the same situation as the postal shutdown. Private businesses doing the same services are making big profits so our governments should use a little brainpower and effort instead of just walking away. How dumb is it for them to hand over a business to someone else so THEY can make money when the infrastructure is already in place? I currently am lucky enough to have family watch my children but did have my first daughter in the Algoma daycare for a while. Shutting down these facilities will leave a void in child care that will cause a huge economic rift.
3/11/2014 4:17:28 PM
Taxpayer 76 says:
I would challenge Varga to actually go through income statements of Day cares. I'm not quite sure how you can say private daycares are making money unless they offer minimum wage, high rates and poor programming. Most daycares aren't in it for the money (there is none), they are there because they enjoy what they do and the satisfaction it brings.
3/11/2014 7:35:28 PM
varga says:
Taxpayer 76 - I would mostly agree with what you say. My point was that many comments are saying to hand over child care to private business so they can make money. Not only is that an insane statement if true but like you state in most cases private daycares struggle. City run daycare has the advantage of the City already owning the facilities and having the space for larger numbers of children and staff. There are also ways to offset cost from outside sources such as sponsorships and investments as well. Discounts for employees of businesses that give dollar amounts to child care centers, toys donated by local and national toy stores, parent groups applying pressure to higher levels of government for funding and so on. My point is that I would like to see our municipal government get in the habit of running things better instead of walking away from a failed half hearted attempt. "Well we did nothing, tried nothing and look what happened! Give it away!"
3/12/2014 11:00:14 AM
R18 says:
In a society wear most middle class families have two full-time employed persons in their household, they need to have daycare available to them. That is a service that citizens have the right to have. Our tax dollars should be spent on helping the people of this city, especially when its the people who work full-time and drop there kids off at daycare that pay a lot of taxes through out the year. Whats the point of paying taxes if it does not help the people paying their taxes. And please if you do not have a full-time job you do not have the right to a comment on this issue because you really don't pay a lot of taxes. The parents in this city have the right to available daycare so that they can continue to work and keep paying taxes and it is the responsibility of our tax dollars to aid the hard working citizens and parents of this city. Wait that is nonsense who cares about daycare lets build an expensive event center with our money that will cost us yearly, This city is a joke.
3/14/2014 7:18:28 PM
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