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To date, she has only been able to pick up one day at Nesters. She will use a home daycare two days a week, and friends and neighbours the other two days.
“There’s no consistency,” she said. “All the confusion about where he’s going and to who has been stressful for him, and it’s definitely taken a toll on us. We have to pack up everything, snacks, lunches, indoor clothes, outdoor clothes, diapers, blankets, toys, every day because he’s never in the same location more than two days in a row.”
Getting a babysitter or nanny cost more than double, said Wilson, and was not an option. Right now her boy is 15 months, and when he’s 18 months they will have the option of using the Mark Warner Whistler Daycare, which offers a reduced rate for residents but still costs an extra $20 per day over Spring Creek for a full day.
“It’s tough out there right now,” she said. “It’s not (the Whistler Children’s Centre’s) fault, and I know they’re doing everything they can to get certified workers, but it’s a strain on families. I can see people choosing not to work, or leaving town because of this, which is something I would hate to do because I love it here. These are all people that chose to stay in Whistler as employees, and to raise families here, and were counting on daycare.”
Whistler Children’s Centre has been busy recruiting certified instructors for months, but to date they haven’t been able to find the instructors with the right qualifications. That’s partly to do with the fact that instructors require a two-year degree for a job that is generally low-paying and high stress, and the general shortage of instructors in the province. The higher cost of living in Whistler and lack of affordable housing also makes it difficult to attract workers.
As well, the federal government reduced its subsidy for child care in early 2007, instead opting to give parents $100 per month per child. Daycare supporters argue that those subsidies were necessary to boost staff wages and keep costs down for parents.
In addition to recruiting certified workers, the Whistler Children’s Centre and parents are appealing to the province to make it easier for workers to become certified, and to speed up the process to recognize certifications from outside the province that are as good or better than the B.C. standard. They are also looking for more funding, allowing daycares to pay their instructors more.