Concerned about Daycare, Ashley writes the Mayor

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This email exchange was submitted by the author, Ashley Lariviere. A concerned citizen surrounding day care provided by the city. Ashley sends along the original email sent to the Mayor, The Mayor’s response and then the response back from Ashley. (below)

I am writing to you to ask that you protect our municipal childcare programs, not just as a concerned parent, but also as concerned citizen.

As a parent I depend on Jessie Irving Children’s Centre for daily care for my 2 year old daughter and after school care for my 6 year old daughter while I attend work . My husband currently has a part-time job with shift work. I am lucky enough to maintain 2 part-time positions that equal a full time 9-5 job, as such, I am the primary breadwinner of our family. The exemplary care provided at Jessie Irving allows me concentrate on my work-related tasks without worrying about my children’s well-being. Without this, my family would lose one income as my husband or myself would have to give up work in order to care for our children. As a low income family, this would be a devastating blow. With the cost of daily necessities ever increasing (food, electricity, etc.) I am positive that our family would not be able to survive were we to loose a source of income. Additionally, I am concerned with how long we will go before obtaining a replacement childcare spot. I was on a waiting list for approximately 2 years to obtain my daughter’s childcare spot. If we loose this spot, I do not foresee us gaining another spot before she is ready for school.

As a citizen of Sault Ste. Marie, I am concerned. I am concerned about the number of jobs that will be lost due to the closure of these facilities. This city has seen significant job loss over the past year and Council is now looking at cutting a significant number highly skilled/trained employees. With the current state of our school system, and the difficulty of obtaining an ECE position in that environment, how long will these professionals remain out of work. I am concerned about how a cut in childcare services will be another factor driving the outward migration of young people and young families. As a young parent, I would much rather be in a city where I can receive dependable childcare. I am concerned for the children; if we don’t ensure that they are receiving the best possible care, they could be in danger. There are multiple examples of children being placed in harms way in non-municipal daycare settings; two recent examples include a young girl who passed away while in a Vaughn-area daycare, and video of daycare employees encouraging young children to fist fight. I understand that all daycares are to be held to the same standards and monitoring, but if we are honest we have to admit that there is more supervision in the day-to-day operations of a municipal run centre. Additionally, without an adequate number of licensed spaces, desperate parents are more likely to place their children in a unlicensed home. Please recognize that closure of these programs will not just affect parents. It is going to affect employers, who face employees needing to take time from work while they arrange alternate childcare; or worse, employees may need to permanently leave their position, resulting in additional hiring and/or training costs.

Mayor Provenzano, the number 1 reason I voted for you was your apparent commitment to make the Sault a better place for young people and their families. Your commitment to stop the outward migration of youth appealed to me as someone who moved to this city several years ago from Southern Ontario. I thought this city had it all. Please prove me right, in both my judgement of you as a mayor and this city as the place where I wanted to raise my family.

Mr. Butland, Mr. Christian, Mr. Krmpotich, Mr. Romano, Mr. Bruni, Mr. Fata , please remember the pledge you signed in October, 2014, that we could depend on you to promote and strengthen our early learning and childcare programs.

Kindest Regards,
Ashley Lariviere

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Ashley:

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

While I do not agree with all of your assertions, I understand and respect your opinion. I note, importantly, that if the City does not carry on with its own daycare the spots do not necessarily disappear. The funding we receive will go into the daycare system and, as I understand, the City will have at least the same number of spots available for children.

I am certain Council will approach this matter thoroughly and with the care you expect of us.

Sincerely,

Christian Provenzano

Office of Mayor

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Mr. Provenzano,

I thank you for your prompt response to my previous email. However, the more I consider your response, the more I feel as if you have been dismissive of my concerns, without actually addressing them.

My foremost personal concern is for the continued childcare for my children (both full day childcare and after school care.) You understand that the city will have the same number of childcare spots, but you haven’t been able to confirm that all children who currently have spot, will continue to or if the number of subsidized spots will remain unchanged. Additionally, even if all children who currently have care continue to, will this transition to a new spot be without interruption in care?

In respect to my concerns as a citizen of this city, I am curious as to which of my assertions you do not agree with. Do you not agree that the loss of highly skilled jobs would be bad for our economy? Do you not agree that municipal run daycares have somewhat more supervision than private and/or home daycares? Do you not agree that loss of a childcare spot could result in time off work and/or loss of work for families dependant on childcare? Do you not agree that employees would have to hire and train new staff, resulting in higher operating costs, if staff has to leave due to lack of childcare?

I have attempted to not take your vague response to my previous email personally, as I know that it is not. However, I can’t help but feel as if your dismissal of my concerns shows that you do not understand the situation for many families in this city. As per this https://saultonline.com/2015/10/sault-property-tax-one-of-the-highest-orazietti/ Sault Ste. Marie is one of the highest taxed cities in the province, and receives substantial assistance from the provincial government. I understand that that your council is trying to lower city spending, but I urge you to look elsewhere. Municipal supported daycare is said to account for approximately 0.12% of a residential tax bill ($3 on average). I am sure I am not alone in thinking that this is a small price to pay for such an exemplary service.

In reference to the wonderful care provided at these centres, I ask how you can make an informed decision regarding value when I believe you have not witnessed first hand the amazing program set up in these facilities. Two of the 3 centres that are being considered for closure recently hosted open houses, and my understanding is that no one from council attended the Jessie Irving centre during this period. I am unsure how many council members attended Maycourt Children’s Centre but do not believe that it was many.

Again, I ask you to please vote to keep our municipal daycares open on Monday, November 23.

Kindest Regards,
Ashley Lariviere

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