Big changes for Municipal Child Care Services
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
After 38 years of offering childcare services for the residents of Sioux Lookout and surrounding areas, the Municipality has entered into an agreement with the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) in which KDSB will assume responsibility for the two Municipally-run Child Care Centres, Biidaabin and Sioux Mountain, effective January 1, 2022. The Municipality has been providing child care services for area residents since the former Norah Love Childrens’ Centre was first opened in 1983.
Mayor Doug Lawrance said of the pending transfer, “Our community is the last in the region to transfer Municipally-run child care services from the Municipality to the Kenora District Services Board,” adding “this was a difficult but financially prudent decision for Council.”
The Transfer Agreement will see the Municipality’s child care staff become employees of KDSB, pending cooperation and concurrence with CUPE local 2141, which represents the child care staff.
“We worked very hard to ensure the best possible arrangement for our staff,” explained Municipal CAO Michelle Larose, noting, “we did not want to take the ‘wash our hands of child care services’ approach and just lay off those staff members with no measures in place to fill the void that would be created if the Municipality simply decided not to offer the service any more; this arrangement ensures the best possible protection and support for our valued employees, while simultaneously ensuring no disruption to the services.”
KDSB CAO Henry Wall stated, “Through the agreement, the Kenora District Services Board and the Municipality of Sioux Lookout are ensuring that the Early Years and Child Care programs in Sioux Lookout remain affordable, accessible, and sustainable into the future. We believe that through the transfer and under the KDSB’s operating model, we will be able to focus on enhancing the programs in order to offer more child care spaces in the community. We look forward to welcoming the current child care staff to the KDSB, and we look forward to working with the community to create more child care spaces.”
“Parents of children currently attending Biidaaban and Sioux Mountain Children’s Centres will be kept informed of the transition and any implications on their child’s enrollment in the child care programs,” Larose concluded.
Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance added, “Daycare will go on in Sioux Lookout and I think we are making a positive move for the community in accessing the resources of the District Services Board to deliver daycare in the best manner possible for families and for the most cost-effective manner for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout.”