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by Elise Thomsen

The provincial government wants to develop new childcare spaces and they are putting their money where their mouth is, sort of. 

Four million dollars has been allocated to “support the development” of 500 new child care spaces province-wide in this year’s budget said a press release from the Saskatchewan government. Some of those spaces will be designated to post-secondary institutions that sorely need them.

Last year, the government spent just over $781,000 on the two daycare facilities on campus at the University of Regina to fund subsidies for parents and to maintain the facilities. No new spaces were created, though.

“Our current facilities on campus are at maximum levels,” said URSU president Kyle Addison in an interview for INK Online two weeks ago. Addison was lobbying for more childcare facilities on campus with MLA Rob Norris.
“Any childcare spaces are certainly welcomed,” said Kaytlyn Barber, the outgoing VP of external affairs for URSU.

“We’re going to work towards the goal of approximately half (of the 500 places being on post secondary institutions). Now, of course, that will depend on the post secondary institutions that can have the space up and running within this budget year,” said Donna Harpauer, the Saskatchewan Party MLA for the Humboldt region.

Over 150 children are on the waitlist to get into the Awasis Childcare Co-operative alone on the U of R campus. The Wascana Daycare Co-operative, the other on campus facility at the U of R, also has a waitlist.
“It’s very long and that never changes,” said Jenny Barsi-Muntain of the waitlist at the Wascana Daycare Co-operative, where she is the assistant director.

Maegan Gardner, a mother and student, said the on-campus child care facilities make getting her degree possible. Her daughter, Shania, attends the Wascana Childcare Co-operative.

“I think it’s good,” said Gardner.  “(More places) would help out. It’s something that’s lacking everywhere,” she said, but was uncertain whether approximately 250 new day care places across the whole province would be sufficient.

A couple of hundred new day care spots for post-secondary institutions is a step in the right direction. The added stipulation that the spaces must be created within the budget year adds extra complications, though. If facilities must be built or repurposed, that deadline for funding could be very tight.

 Top Left: Premier Brad Wall on the TV screen at the Legislature with Donna Harpauer over his shoulder.
Top Right: Hon. MLA Rob Norris during interviews.
Bottom Right: Hon. Donna Harpauer.
All photos by Elise Thomsen