BRUCE COUNTY – Bruce County has received $3,212,097 in Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) System funding for 2022.
The county’s human services committee gave authorization for an amendment to the 2022 budget, and for staff to enter into purchase of service agreements with licensed child care providers.
On March 28, the province announced an agreement had been reached with the federal government to support CWELCC, the aim of which is to lower child care costs for families and increase access to quality licensed child care over the next three years.
“This is really groundbreaking,” said Christine McDonald, director of human services.
There’ll be a graduated fee reduction to achieve the goal of $10 a day child care fees by September 2025. Rebates will be paid to operators who have opted into the CWELCC program.
The initiative involves the creation of approximately 86,000 new licensed child care spaces across the province by the end of 2026, including the 15,000 licensed child care spaces created since 2019.
Another key element of CWELCC involves increasing the wages of early childhood educators to $18, and $20 per hour for supervisors, and an additional $1 per hour from 2023 to 2026, up to $25 per hour.
County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, commented, “This is a really positive thing for childcare in our community.” However, he noted that creating 86,000 new spaces is “easy to say.”
McDonald replied that the wage increase will help.
Charbonneau went on to say that more people working in child care centres are needed, but so are more centres.
“Bruce County needs to get our share of those 86,000 new licensed spaces … a good plan will help,” he said.
County Coun. Chris Peabody asked how the initiative will help the person who provides in-home care for two or three children.
McDonald said care in private homes falls into two categories – regulated and unregulated. Regulated are included in the initiative.
Long-term care visiting policy amended
Megan Garland, director of long-term care and senior services, presented a report on changes to the visiting policy that allows unvaccinated visitors to spend time with their friends and loved ones at the county’s long-term care facilities.
“Thanks for making these changes; they were needed,” said Warden Janice Jackson.
The changes over the past two months have provided more options for visiting, as provincial public health COVID-19 measures were eased.
The report stated that in consultation with residents’ council, family and friends committees, Grey Bruce Public Health and labour relations partners, the visiting police has expanded visiting areas for unvaccinated visitors to include residents’ rooms with specific infection control measures in place.
The homes will also be removing the requirement for family and friends to prebook their visits, and will work to remove barriers for residents receiving visitors.
Ombudsman’s report received
The most recent ombudsman’s report on four meetings held in closed session was received as information by Bruce County council at the June 1 meeting.
A report will be prepared and will be brought to the executive committee for discussion.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times