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Canada Nova Scotia child-care fees to be reduced ahead of schedule

20:08  14 january  2022
20:08  14 january  2022 Source:   msn.com

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Children play at a child-care centre at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax in July 2021. © Michael Gorman/CBC Children play at a child-care centre at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax in July 2021.

Nova Scotia parents with children in regulated non-profit daycares will see their fees reduced by 25 per cent beginning April 1.

Premier Tim Houston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that the move to reduce fees is happening ahead of schedule as part of the affordable child-care agreement the province and Ottawa signed last year.

With the change, parents will see fees reduced retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.

In April, when the change in fees takes hold, parents will have the option of getting a cheque for the savings from the previous three months or having it applied as a credit for their child care.

Drop in Nova Scotia child-care fees ahead of schedule under national program

  Drop in Nova Scotia child-care fees ahead of schedule under national program HALIFAX — Child-care fees in Nova Scotia will drop by an average of 25 per cent, retroactive to Jan. 1, which is ahead of schedule under the agreement signed last summer between the province and the federal government. The early cut in fees will save parents an average of $200 a month for a toddler in care, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Tim Houston said during a virtual news conference on Friday. In July, Nova Scotia became the second province to sign onto the federal Liberals' early learning and child-care agreement, the goal of which is to gradually lower the cost of child care to $10 a day on average by 2026.

The province also announced that 1,500 new not-for-profit child-care spaces would be available beginning this fall as part of the promised 9,500 new spaces that come through the five-year federal-provincial agreement.

Giving kids a head start

"The impact of this will be felt for generations," Houston said during a virtual news conference.

"This is going to help more children get the best possible start in life. It will help address child poverty and it will support women and families who are wanting to get back into the workforce."

Houston said plans remain on track for fees to be reduced by 50 per cent by the end of this year, and for an average of $10 per day child care to be available by 2026.

Karina Gould, the federal minister of families, children and social development, said the additional spaces and lower fees will mean more choice for families who often struggle to find any child care at all.

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"They're just really often taking the place that offers them the first spot on the wait-list," she said.

Work continues on salary, benefits structure

Part of the agreement signed last year by Trudeau and the former Nova Scotia Liberal government called for a framework to be in place by 2022 to address the need for increased wages and benefits for early childhood educators.

Nova Scotia Education Minister Becky Druhan said work continues on the framework and it will be complete later this year.

Druhan did not have details on Friday about what kind of increases people working in the sector could expect, but said it would include benefits.

Meanwhile, the province is giving licensed, for-profit child-care centres the option of changing their business model to be able to offer reduced fees to parents and offer staff wages and benefits that will be in line with the framework the government is creating.

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According to a document the Education Department shared this week with commercial licence holders, centres have until the end of March to decide whether to continue with their current approach or transition to become part of the Canada-Nova Scotia Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement or operate as a non-profit centre.

If they make the switch, the centres would fall under the management of a new central organization the Education Department is creating to manage the system.

Ramifications of 'historic change'

Centres considering a change can get a grant of $15,000 by Jan. 18 to be used for professional advisory services to help them make a final decision.

Any centres that choose not to make the transition will lose provincial funding and will be ineligible to offer the child-care subsidy program to families. Those that do make the change will receive a one-time lump sum transition payment.

Houston acknowledged it won't be an easy choice for some operators, but said the government is creating a stable child-care system that for-profit operators have the option to join.

"We understand the gravity of the decisions that are before them and we want to support them through those decisions," he said.

"But this is an historic change. Every time you make an historic change there are ramifications and we're sympathetic to that and we apologize for that, but we're going to work with them to get them in the best possible place that they can be."

Care providers say Ottawa takes far too long to pay for health services for First Nations kids .
Some health care providers say bureaucratic red tape at the federal level is holding up vital therapies for First Nations children, causing some kids to experience further developmental delays and leaving their businesses in financial distress. Several speech-language pathologists interviewed by CBC News said their clients are waiting six to 12 months for funding approvals from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to begin sessions under the Jordan's Principle policy.

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