High turnover of daycare staff and long wait lists for daycare spaces were among the concerns that Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak raised with Education Minister David Joanasie in the legislative assembly on Monday.

The not-for-profit Tundra Buddies Day Care opened in Iqaluit last year but there’s still a wait list of more than 700 youngsters in the city, according to Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak.
photo courtesy Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

Angnakak said she believes the wait list exceeds 700 children in Iqaluit, which she referred to as “quite alarming.”

“That means that some parents can’t go to work or to school because they have to stay home with the child,” she said.

Better wages and benefits are needed to keep daycare workers, she suggested, adding that the GN could consider making early childhood educators government employees. She also proposed the idea of bringing all daycares together in one large building where they would share one fuel bill, one electricity bill, one big playground and a single wait list. However, there could be many rooms with instruction in different languages, she noted.

Joanasie said there was talk in the past of possibly incorporating all daycares under the territorial government. His said his department is still examining the concept of having regional boards for daycares.

“In Iqaluit, for example, there are so many different daycares. To have one board would
streamline and maybe make better use of some of the resources that are currently in these
facilities and/or maximize on the child care spaces,” the minister said. ” I will commit to having our staff perhaps approach the city and have a discussion around, let’s say, talking to all the daycare facilities here and see what the appetite is because, as far as I am concerned, they are all incorporated and their own boards set up on their own terms. Some like the Tumikuluit is all Inuktitut focused whereas some others aren’t so much. I think it’s just trying to get everyone on the same page. What the same page looks like, I think, is
something that we can try to aim towards.”

Nunavut has a total of 1,224 child care spaces and the wait list territory-wide comprises 1,105 children, Joanasie noted.

Early childhood educators holding degrees or diplomas earn about $25 an hour in Nunavut’s daycares, according to the Dept. of Education.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...