Sunday, October 17, 2021

Canso daycare initiative elects board of directors

  • July 28 2021
  • By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    

CANSO – Efforts to establish a licensed childcare centre in Canso took a step forward on July 19 with the election of a board of directors for the Canso and Area Daycare Initiative.

The meeting, held at the Canso Library and Resource centre, saw 20-plus members gather to form the board and move forward with the daycare project. Elected executive board members are Danielle Bond, chair; Julia Murphy, vice-chair; Linzy Roberts, secretary; and Rachel Roberts, treasurer.

The Journal spoke with Danielle Bond about the progress of the initiative in Canso on July 20. She said that the effort came out of focus group discussions held by the Canso area chapter of the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and the Sexual Assault Services Association’s Circles of Support & Change project. Time and time again, community members voiced that childcare was an urgent need in the Canso area.

While the need was clear, an opportunity arose in the form of cooperation with the Strait Regional Centre for Education (SRCE), which is actively looking for partners to create childcare centres on existing school properties.

Paul Landry, regional executive director of education for the SRCE, and Mike Landry, operations director for the SRCE, gave a presentation to Canso area residents about the existing day care centres in SRCE schools, and the steps necessary to bring a similar facility to Canso.

Bond said approximately 20 people attended the meeting on June 15 with SRCE representatives, while others sent letters of support for the project that were read at the meeting.

Speaking to the need for a daycare in Canso, Bond said the lack of childcare impacts women who can’t take advantage of employment opportunities.

“There were some people who went into this meeting saying they needed four to five different babysitters in any given week, which is extremely unrealistic,” said Bond, adding, “Canso is sitting at a 38.9 per cent poverty rate, according to the 2020 Child Poverty Report Card. That’s an extremely high number. The lack of affordable childcare has been an issue; you can’t get subsidized care from babysitters.”

From a community perspective, Canso residents have been putting a lot of support behind the childcare initiative. “There’s been an outpouring of positive conversations,” said Bond. “It was really nice, as soon as everybody was finding out this was happening, everyone was coming out and saying how excited they are and how happy they are. It was good. I am so passionate about this project. When you think about everybody that was having a hard time and you help them –that’s tear-jerking stuff.

“From a recruitment [doctors and nurses] standpoint, that’s the first thing they ask … is there childcare here?” Bond noted.

As well as being chair of the daycare initiative board, Bond also knows first-hand how urgent the need for childcare is in the area. The mother of a six-month-old, she has no licensed care options for her daughter when her maternity leave ends and she returns to work at a daycare centre in Antigonish.

“The irony is, I can take care of other people’s children, but I can’t take care of my own at the daycare,” said Bond, as no daycares in Antigonish take infants.

Bond added that the provision of care for infants was a top priority for the Canso daycare initiative, “Because other than these two potential childcare centres [Guysborough which received provincial funding last week and Canso], I can’t think of one [centre that takes infants].”

Municipality of the District of Guysborough councillors representing Canso and area: Fin Armsworthy, District 8; Janet Peitzsche, District 5; and Dave Hanhams, District 4, have also gotten behind the project, Bond said.

She said fundraising projects in support of the Canso daycare initiative would get off the ground soon.

“We’ve got some pretty excited young women who are more than capable of seeing everything through … They are ready to go,” she said.