EAST PRESTON, N.S. — The Nova Scotia government announced Wednesday the creation of 1,500 new licensed early learning and child-care spaces by the end of the year.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan said the spaces will cost $29 million and will be funded through an agreement signed last summer with the federal government.
“We are making it easier for parents to access more affordable, quality, inclusive child care,” Druhan said during a news conference held at a daycare centre in East Preston, N.S.
The minister said the new spots will be across the province, including in communities such as Ingonish, N.S., where licensed child care has been unavailable. A new site in Ingonish will be getting 24 of the new spaces.
“We are opening options to women and families who have little to no choice now,” Druhan said.
She said 1,250 of the spaces will be distributed among 45 not-for-profit centres, with the rest going to seven licensed agencies that administer home child care.
Under the province’s $605-million, five-year deal with Ottawa, a total of 9,500 daycare spaces, costing parents an average $10 a day, are to be created by March 2026.
The province announced in January that as part of the deal, parents would see a 25 per cent reduction, on average, in child-care fees. Druhan pointed out that fees are to be reduced by a further 25 per cent by the end of this year.
The province has been dealing with a shortage of early childhood educators, but Druhan said she believes there will be enough available to staff the announced expansion of spaces.
“We will require approximately 300 (educators) and we actually have 300 slated to graduate in the course of this year, so that aligns really nicely,” she said. “We are in good shape to support the expansion.”
The East Preston Day Care Centre is among those that will benefit from the expansion. It will add eight new infant spaces at its existing site and 60 toddler spaces at its new second location in Dartmouth.
Executive director Trina Fraser said that as a result, the centre will need to hire nine new employees. “It will take time, but I do know that there’s great enrolment in programs that exist right now,” Fraser said.
Meanwhile, Druhan said work is continuing on bolstering wages for educators, with a new compensation package to be rolled out in the fall. “That will mean better pay and better benefits,” the minister said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2022.
— By Keith Doucette in Halifax
The Canadian Press