Nova Scotia to review daycares' use of waitlist fees

Some daycares in Nova Scotia require a fee to join the waitlist. The minister of early childhood development says the practice is not in line with her goal of ensuring affordable childcare. (Rob Kruk/CBC - image credit)
Some daycares in Nova Scotia require a fee to join the waitlist. The minister of early childhood development says the practice is not in line with her goal of ensuring affordable childcare. (Rob Kruk/CBC - image credit)

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan says daycares should not ask families for money to secure a spot on their waitlists, and she's looking for ways to eliminate the practice.

"The goal is to ensure that Nova Scotians have access to affordable childcare. Practices that are inconsistent with that, we need to address," she told reporters Wednesday at Province House.

Daycare provider Kids & Company came under fire earlier this year for taking thousands of dollars from families and then not providing the spots families thought were guaranteed.

Druhan said she thought that issue had been resolved.

Nova Scotia Education Minister Becky Druhan speaks to reporters at Province House.
Nova Scotia Education Minister Becky Druhan speaks to reporters at Province House.

Nova Scotia Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan speaks to reporters at Province House. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

"The situation that came to light previously did cease and so the one that has come to light most recently is new," she said, referring to a case that was highlighted during Question Period by NDP MLA Suzie Hansen.

Hansen brought up an email sent this week by a parent from Dartmouth to Druhan and several other MLAs, flagging that Kids & Company recently asked for $200 to join its waitlist. The parent, like Druhan, thought the practice had stopped, and was asking for clarity on whether or not it was allowed.

The NDP told CBC News a parent in Halifax raised a similar issue last month when asked for a $100 waitlist fee by the Maritime Muslim Academy.

Kids & Company never said it would stop asking for money to join the waitlist. It did say it would eliminate the requirement for a $1,000 deposit.

Although Druhan said she disapproved of the practice, she stopped short of calling for an outright ban.

"To our knowledge this is a very very limited practice," she said.. "The majority of our childcare operators are not engaging in this practice. And so how you address the situation that only involves one or a limited group may be different than if the practice was broad."

NDP Leader Claudia Chender said she was glad the department is investigating the issue, but she thinks it has taken too long.

"This has been an issue for a long time. So the idea that this is the very first that [the minister] decided she's going to actually look at it or direct her department is troubling," Chender said.

Druhan could not provide a timeline for her department's review, but she said staff were actively looking into it.

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