Some child-care operators in P.E.I. say they're still waiting on government support to help them expand and get children off their lengthy wait-lists.
Last week, the federal government announced it's helping fund the creation of 300 new child-care spaces set to open within the next 18 months.
But that money is only for centres that applied last winter to get additional spaces at existing buildings. There's nothing to help those looking to rent, buy, or build a bigger facility, says Wendy Foote, owner of Appleseed Childcare in Montague.
"We've been looking at expanding since, I'm gonna say nine years, with no success," Foote said. "We've gone federal, provincial, we've knocked on every door possible."
With nearly 300 children on her wait-list, the owner of Appleseed Childcare says a lot of kids could benefit if her centre received government funding. (Steve Bruce/CBC)
Foote's centre is full and has a wait-list nearly 300 kids long.
She said there's no room to expand her current centre, and moving or building isn't affordable.
'We know what we need'
In its budget last year, the federal government earmarked $625 million in child-care infrastructure funding spread out over four years.
But Foote said she doesn't know if or when she'll be eligible for help through that.
Wendy Foote, owner of Appleseed Childcare in Montague, says she's wanted to expand her centre for year but can't afford to do so without government help. (Steve Bruce/CBC )
She and some other operators met with federal and provincial officials last week, but Foote said she didn't get clear answers.
"They say this money is there, but they never let us know what it's for until the applications come out to do funding," she said.
"[I] would like to see is the money being spent actually in child-care centres, not on research studies on how to help... because we know what we need."
2,000 children on provincial wait-list
A spokesperson with the province said P.E.I. is still in talks with Ottawa about how the infrastructure funds can be used and when the Island will see some of that money.
There are currently about 2,000 children on the province's child-care wait-list as the Island's population continues to grow.
Foote said cheaper daycare will also fuel demand. Fees at early-year centres will be down to $10 a day by the end of the year.
"If there was no childcare spaces, how are you going to get new doctors? How are you going to get RCMP?… Nurses, they're crying for nurses," she said.
"They need somewhere for their children to go, or you're not going to have those workers go to work."