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City proceeds with plan to close downtown daycare centre

The fate of the Junior Citizens Day Care centre was sealed Aug. 12 when city council supported moving ahead with a transition plan to close the facility.
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If approved by city council, Greater Sudbury will take the 120 subsidized day care spaces at its city-owned facility and move them to non-profit centres. The move is aimed at saving money, since costs are more than double at the Junior Citizens Day Care compared to other facilities. File photo.
The fate of the Junior Citizens Day Care centre was sealed Aug. 12 when city council supported moving ahead with a transition plan to close the facility.

The daycare is the only one owned and operated by the municipality, and was also the only facility to offer evening service for families who work hours other than 9-5. The bilingual centre operates out of the YMCA downtown, offering 120 spots and employing 22 staff, who are municipal employees.

A more detailed transition plan will go to the next city council by December 2015, but staff has started the process, sending out expressions of interest to the city's non-profit daycare centres to gauge their interest in taking over services from Junior Citizens.

Meeting in June, Ron Henderson, the city's director of citizen services, told the community services committee the province cut $1.8 million in funding for daycare spaces in 2013, and have told cities to expect more cuts. In Sudbury's case, another $3.6 million is expected to be trimmed by 2016.

Since it's staffed by municipal employees, wages at Junior Citizens are about 50 per cent higher than workers in non-government daycares. As a result, the facility consumes a larger proportion of funding than other daycares. Last year, for example, subsidies at JCDC were $6,304 per child, compared to $3,063 for non-city facilities.

That prompted the council to look at winding down Junior Citizens, since it would be taking an even larger proportion of shrinking funds. Staff estimates closing the centre will save about $129,000, and the number of daycare spaces that will be lost as a result of funding cuts will be 418, compared with 605.

And other non-profit daycare centres in Sudbury have said they're interested in picking up services offered by JCDC, including extended evening hours.

Darren MacDonald

About the Author: Darren MacDonald

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