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Government investment grows child care spaces in Nanaimo area

Nanaimo News Bulletin - 12/5/2017

Eighty new child care spaces will be created in the Nanaimo area with more than $1 million from the B.C. government.

The province announced Monday that it is making a $33-million investment to create child care spaces across B.C., including in Nanaimo and Gabriola Island.RELATED: B.C. to create 3,800 childcare spaces within two years

Fifty-two communities across B.C. are expected to benefit from projects that will build 3,800 childcare spaces, according to a government press release, which says the focus of investment is on "areas of greatest need," such as infant and toddler spaces, spaces on school grounds or co-located in a community hub and inclusive spaces in child development centres.

Katrine Conroy, minister of children and family development, said in the press release that too many B.C. families are struggling to find child care and the new spaces will offer relief and hope to parents.

In Nanaimo, more than $470,000 will go towards creating 40 licensed childcare spaces at the new Centre de garde de l'Ã?cole Océane, a partnership between the B.C. Francophone Parents Federation and Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique. Hidamari Exploration Studio and Child Care will get $163,000 for eight multi-age spaces and the Verstraete Evangelistic Association of Ontario will get $500,000 to create 32 spaces at The HOPE Centre on Gabriola.

Leonard Krog, Nanaimo MLA, said Nanaimo needs investment on both ends of the scale – childcare and housing.

"We know that … child care spaces have been extremely limited for years, and housing for the vulnerable, so this announcement today is a major step forward in making life affordable for people," said Krog, who said the facilitation of child care spaces is needed to ensure children get good care and that the economic spinoff from it is significant.

"Good child care, parents in the workforce are all good for the economy. It builds a healthier community on every level."

Marie-Andrée Asselin, executive director of the B.C. Francophone Parents Federation, called the funding great news for the francophone community.

The school will have a new daycare with 16 spaces for early years care or children between three and five years old, which will help with the transition to kindergarden, according to Asselin, who expects the centre to open in September 2018. There will also be 24 before- and after-school care spaces, which could open sooner.

"We did a survey with the community at the school in Nanaimo and the demand was quite high, so that's why we chose that school to work on a new daycare," said Asselin.

Government dollars will go towards purchasing and installing a portable at L'Ã?cole Océane and equipment like tables, chairs and educational toys.

The announcement was made today in Vancouver, where Black Press'Katya Slepian reported that Conroy deferred to her government's upcoming February budget when asked how much it would cost parents to send their kids to the new daycares, or when parents could expect to see $10-a-day childcare, as promised by the NDP during the election.

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