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City to look at child care options

A task force looking at ways to create efficient and effective child care options in the city will move forward with stakeholder consultations.

THUNDER BAY - The city will continue to look at making child care more efficient and effective as it moves forward with public consultations on several possible options.

Thunder Bay city council received a report from the Task Force on City-Operated Child Care during Monday night’s council meeting. The task force was created in 2015 to make recommendations on more efficient and effective child care options. There are 495 children attending four city-run child care centres.

The task force has outlined three possible options, which include continuing to operate city-operated centres at Grace Remus, Algoma, Ogden and Woodcrest Child Care Centres. Costs could be reduced by $116,000 through adding additional revenue and a $56,000 reduction to wage and benefits.

The second option presented calls for the Algoma Child Care Centre to be relocated to either St. Margaret’s, Algonquin, or St. Elizabeth’s School. This would create $116,000 in savings, as well as an additional $45,000 in facility cost savings and $508,000 in future savings if the Algoma facility is sold.

The final option proposed is to amalgamate Algoma and Grace Remus Child Care Centres and relocate it to either St. Margaret’s Algonquin, or St. Elizabeth’s School. This option would create $142,100 in additional operating savings and $508,000 possible future savings if the Algoma facility is sold.

City council voted to accept the report, but not all are happy with the options. Coun. Rebecca Johnson, who sits on the task force, said the recommendations presented in the report are not her first choice.

“I am agreeing to the recommendations because that is the best we can do right now,” she said. “We do not have enough local providers that can take over some of the daycare situation. So we have to have a cut off of what we can do.”

Johnson added that she questioned whether or not the city should even be in child care, but said she was convinced otherwise.

Northwood Coun. Shelby Chung asked what the economic impact would be on small businesses if there was no access to city-run child care in the city.

“A lot of businesses would suffer if child care centres closed,” she said.

Council voted in favour on the motion to have the task force move forward with consulting additional stakeholders on the three options, as well as lobby the Ministry of Education for Funds to support municipalities that operate child care centres.