Directors of southeast Sask daycares say $10 a day fee will cost parents more

March 21, 2023, 3:40 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts


On March 6, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that parent fees for regulated full time child care in the province will be reduced to $10 a day starting April 1, 2023.

However, directors for daycares across the southeast area of the province have stated that the general $10 a day fee will force centres to charge parents who use their services part time more than they are already paying for, as well as cause daycare centres to cut families in order to make room for full time spots.

“This might be good for some families who are paying really high fees right now, but what it looks like in our daycare is potentially having to cut families because we need to have these full time spots available,” said Cara Werner, director of Dream Big Child Care in Rocanville.

“They’re basically cutting out our part time spots completely. We had part time monthly fees that we would charge our families. As long as they were under 99 hours a month, they were in that part time spot.

“What this does now is it completely switches that. It’s no longer based on how many hours they’re in the daycare, it’s based on how many days they’re in the daycare.”

The provincial government’s announcement states that parents whose children are under the age of six and attend regulated child care on a full-time basis, can expect to pay $217.50 per month.

According to the Government of Saskatchewan, the fee reductions will result in families saving an average of $395 to $573 per month for each child under six from the average comparable fees as of March 31, 2021.

Yet, Werner said the new policy will actually cost families more than what they are paying for now on a monthly basis, both for part-time and full-time childcare.

“For example, if we were to look at an infant spot for our part time monthly rate, at this point in time, it would be $120 for under 99 hours a month. That is with the 70 per cent reduction that the government has already put into place,” she said.

“Now, if they’re over that 10 days (which is considered full time) they will be paying $217.50. If they choose to stay at the days they’re currently at, let’s say 10 days a month, they’re going to be paying twice as much than they are paying right now. And, if they want to take up those full time spots and have more hours, it’s actually going to force us to cut some families from the centre which is really unfortunate.”

In September 2022, the Governments of Saskatchewan and Canada reduced regulated child care fees for families with children under six by an average of 70 per cent, compared to March 2021 levels. The fee reduction was part of the close to $1.1 billion being invested to transform child care in Saskatchewan through the 2021-22 to 2025-26 Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

“Also, for our full time families, it would actually be a slight increase too because right now they’re paying $200, which again is with the 70 per cent reduction from the government,” said Werner.

“The parent portion they pay is $200, they’re now moving up to $217.50, they’ll be paying $17.50 more a month with this new announcement.”

Terri Low, director of Play Fair Daycare in Moosomin, said the policy will also have negatively affect Moosomin’s community daycare too.

“It’s going to cause us to run differently, I do suspect, because we are on an hourly fee,” said Low.

“With this $10 a day fee, now we’re going to have to go to full time and part time spots. If we have to put them in full time and part time spots, trying to juggle parents who put in random schedules, it’s going to be tricky. Hopefully we can get it worked out, but it’s obviously going to cause a waitlist too, increasing more than what they already are.”

Currently the daycare centre in Moosomin has a capacity of 71 kids. With these new changes in effect, Low said she expects the centre’s waitlist to increase.

“It will benefit families, I get what the government is doing they’re are trying to make it so that both parents can go to work, but it’s just going to increase the demand for spots, and we can only do so much here.

“I hope this is has positive affect on our families, but people need child care and there’s not a lot in Moosomin. I just feel like the demand is going to be even more, and that our waitlists are going to be longer than what they already here.

“We provide quality care here, we’re a facility that parents can feel comfortable leaving their kids for the day while they go to work. We’re beneficial to the community.”

Saskatchewan ahead of affordable child care agreement
Although Saskatchewan is one of the first Canadian provinces to make this change, they are also three years ahead of the province’s plan for bringing down child care fees to $10 day by 2025-26.

“The fact that they’re ahead three years means they’re doing something wrong and they’re missing something,” said Nichole Kessel, Director of Whitewood Wiggles & Giggles Childcare Centre Inc.

“They need to be opening more childcare centres, they need to be training more early childhood educators, they need to get everything in place that when this $10 a day does come, not in three weeks, but in three years from now, there will be centres and educators ready to take in more families so that in can accommodate this change.”

Kessel also serves as the vice-president for the Southeast Saskatchewan Directors Association. She was asked what she thinks needs to be done before the change to $10 a day for regulated childcare is put into place.

“They need to immediately revoke this announcement and talk to the directors of the centres to see what would actually work for us. They have three years to do it, we have lots of time to sit down and have meetings about what will help and work.”

Directors association asking for extension on $10 a day child care
With all of the administrative work that is needed to be done before the policy goes into affect on April 1, president of Southeast Saskatchewan Directors Association Treena Epp said the association will be sending a letter to the Government of Saskatchewan asking for more time to be given before the rate of $10 a day is officially put into place.

“We can put a halt to this really, because it’s supposed to be for 2026, in three years, and it’s (now) only three weeks. We need more time,” said Epp.

“I was a bit shocked hearing about this, there wasn’t much notice. The government regulates that we give one month notice to our parents and here we have three weeks to give them notice.

“I’m still waiting for a response from my consultant for clarification, but with that email (from the government) also came with a letter for parents. I sent that out to parents right away.

“I don’t think it’s quite clear with parents and families yet, I think the next step is going to have to be clarity.”

Epp is also the director of Wawota Early Learning Center. She said out of the 38 families the centre serves they are going to have to cut the eight part time families.

“I’m dreading that we have to notify families that we can’t take them,” she said.