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Bolstered subsidies help parents access child care

In December, the Yukon increased its child-care subsidy for low- and moderate-income families by 25 per cent.

In December, the Yukon increased its child-care subsidy for low- and moderate-income families by 25 per cent.

It also lowered the eligibility threshold.

“I think it’s about time that the child-care community actually came around and give this government some credit for actually listening to what we have to say,” said Clayton Keats, director of the Church of the Nazarene Day Care and a strong advocate for increased subsidies.

“It helps a lot because even though it still makes for a tight budget, at least this is guaranteed money coming into the facilities,” he said.

“A lot of the single parents really could not afford daycare and now this money is transferring back to them — this is more money in their pocket, basically.”

Before the increase, Yukon parents were receiving a significantly lower subsidy than others in the North.

The Yukon offered $500 in monthly subsidies for infant daycare and $450 for toddlers and preschool children.

These amounts had not been adjusted for more than 15 years.

Meanwhile, parents in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut received subsidies of up to $700 a month.

Now, thanks to the 25 per cent subsidy increase, the Yukon is more on par with its northern neighbours.

Parents can receive up to $625 a month for infant care and $565 for toddlers.

 “Daycare has been an issue for a number of years,” said Health and Social Services spokesperson Patricia Living.

In response, the government established a four-year plan and surveyed daycare providers and parents.

One of the major issues highlighted by the survey is that childcare workers do not earn a fair wage.

The increased subsidy will help with that problem, said Living.

“They’re adding some money so that the daycare centres and family day homes will have the ability to increase funding to their staff,” she said.

“There’s a number of issues,” she added.

“We’re trying to increase the support for low-income families and the subsidy will be looking at that as well.”

But it’s difficult to say exactly who is eligible because everyone is assessed on an individual basis, said Living.

For example, a single parent with a government salary and two children in daycare would now be eligible for an extra $300 a month.

The subsidy is part of an increase in child-care funding announced in May.

For the next five years, government child-care funding will increase by $1 million a year until it reaches $10.3 million.

Part of the money will pay subsidies, the rest will train and increase the wages of child-care workers.

The increase is “excellent,” said

Cyndi Desharnais of the Yukon Childcare Association.

“I think that it’s one thing that’s going to be able to keep the field open and survive somewhat,” she said.

But not everyone will benefit from the subsidy increase, she said.

Increase subsidies allow daycare centres to raise fees, said Desharnais.

“So a family that is already paying childcare, that is still not eligible for subsidy, will see their fees increasing, which is a little bit of a concern.”

And the larger subsidies will not solve all the child-care community’s concerns.

Still, it’s a good beginning.

“What the government did is a really big positive step forward,” said Desharnais.

“But there’s always more work to be done in this field.”