Trudeau's child-care announcement a 'slap in the face,' says parent looking for space

Vincent and Megan Munden, who live in St. John's, haven't been able to find childcare for their son, Levi. (Submitted by Megan Munden - image credit)
Vincent and Megan Munden, who live in St. John's, haven't been able to find childcare for their son, Levi. (Submitted by Megan Munden - image credit)
Submitted by Megan Munden
Submitted by Megan Munden

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Clarenville to tout $10-a-day child care — but families who still can't access care say the visit left them frustrated.

Families in Newfoundland and Labrador began paying $10-a-day for child care at the beginning of the year.

"Not only is this saving families here an average of $6,300 per child in regulated care, but it's also making our economies stronger," Trudeau said during a news conference billed as an "announcement" on his itinerary.

But Megan Munden, a St. John's mother, said the news conference felt like "a slap in the face."

"We're in a situation where people just can't access care," she told CBC News. "When I heard it, I felt really helpless and kind of invisible."

Munden she's been on child-care wait-lists since her second trimester, but more than a year after the birth of her son, Levi, she hasn't secured a spot.

Munden isn't alone — parents and critics have been raising concerns about long wait lists and a lack of child-care workers in Newfoundland and Labrador for years.

During the news conference, Trudeau said affordability is just one way to increase access to child care.

"It's making sure that there are accessible spaces. It's making sure, as was pointed out, that there are early childhood educators who are properly trained, properly rewarded and paid to deliver high quality child care," he said.

"This is the work we're doing to build a system across this country that is going to be there so parents don't have to choose between career and family, so it's affordable, so kids get the best possible start in life, and so that we can continue to see more women joining the workforce."

Paul Daly/The Canadian Press
Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

Munden is due to return to work in a few weeks, but without child care, she said, she may have to consider giving up her career.

"To hear him say people are able to return to work because of this care … it just felt like a lie," she said. "They're not speaking to the people on the front line."

Haggie hoping new wage grid will lure workers back

Provincial Education Minister John Haggie said last week the provincial government aims to add about 700 seats to College of the North Atlantic's ECE program.

Haggie also said a new wage grid for ECEs will come into effect April 1 and will be backdated to Jan. 1.

"There are between 600 and 800 — potentially — ECEs who were trained and qualified, that left the system because of what they regarded as inadequate compensation, and obviously we would be aiming to lure them back as well."

LISTEN | Parents react to Trudeau's child-care announcement: 

The provincial and federal governments have also promised to create 6,000 additional spots over five years.

'Draining and non-ending'

Kathryn Byrne, a St. John's single mother of two, said it's good to see more access coming — but she needs help now.

"It's going to take a lot to make that happen and it's going to take time and that's time that a lot of people do not have," she said.

Submitted by Kathryn Byrne
Submitted by Kathryn Byrne

Byrne was studying to be an early childhood educator but paused her education because she couldn't secure child care for her own kids.

"There is not enough support for me to continue my education right now, and that is really frustrating," she said. "I really want to get my education done as soon as possible so I can enter this workforce."

Byrne said income support has been helping pay the bills, making ends meet has been difficult.

"It's draining and non-ending." she said.

"Having daycare would mean that I could get my education done and join the ECE workforce, which would be part of the solution."

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