Algonquin’s student parents are paying the second highest campus daycare fees in the city.
A comparison done by the Times shows a steep difference between those post-secondary campuses which are unionized, and one which is not. The analysis looked at Algonquin’s child care centre, as well as those at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Le Cité collégiale, and compares the price of placing a child in each centre from when they were six months to five years of age.
Student parents at the University of Ottawa are getting the most bang for their buck, paying 25 per cent less for child care parents than at Algonquin, while receiving similar services. Bernadette Child Care Centre at the University of Ottawa does not have unionized employees, according to Johée Deslauriers, director of Bernadette.
The child care centres at Carleton, Algonquin, and Le Cité all employ unionized staff. While the unionized centre’s fees were between $66,000 and $77,000, Bernadette’s is less than $55,000 for the same time period. Of the three unionized centres, Algonquin is one of the most expensive, second only to Le Cité.
According to Lisa Lamarre-O`Gorman, manager of Algonquin College`s Early Learning Centre, the fees for Algonquin and Le Cité are more expensive because they serve as lab schools. These centres are provided to students in both colleges’ early childhood education program for study, but are not paid.
That leads to higher costs because employees share in teaching some of the practical educational elements while the students use these centres for study. And since they are employed by the respective colleges, they are unionized through the Ontario Public Service Employee`s Union.
Employees at Carleton`s Colonel By Child Care Centre are unionized under a different union.
“The reason [high prices] is the human resources, its wages and salaries,” said Lamarre-O’Gorman. “Because we have the union, you know what your salaries are going to be, so you have to pay people appropriately.”
But Lamarre-O’Gorman thinks there are benefits to paying early childhood educators a good wage, because in the long-term, employees stay at the centre.
“The salaries here are commensurate and good salaries for early childhood educators,” she said. “But with the educators here, you get a lot of consistency in staff at this centre. I think that is a big plus here for families, because they know that they’re not having someone new every day; they know they are highly qualified.”
However, the centre at the University of Ottawa provides similar services as Algonquin and the other two. They employ licensed
early childhood educators, and provide appropriate educational programs for all age groups.. All four centres provide meals and snacks for their young clients.
As well, students are able to apply for child care subsidies, but these are provided through the city of Ottawa and not post-secondary institutions. Subsidies are given based on an applicant’s income from the previous fiscal year. Once a subsidy is granted, students are expected to pay the difference.
Some parents who apply to have their children taken care of at the Algonquin centre may never get the opportunity due to the high demand for licensed child care services throughout the city. Although it is difficult to estimate wait list times from each centre, said Lamarre-O’Gorman. It is estimated that the wait list at Algonquin currently has 700 names on it. The wait student parents can expect will ultimately depend on which age group their child is in.
“We are not the only centre, and the wait lists are ridiculous in this city,” said Lamarre-O’Gorman.
The waiting lists for each day care centre are centrally managed by the city. However, all four centres prioritize spaces for its full-time students, and then its staff before offering spaces to the community.
The total cost for each centre was calculated by taking the monthly fee and multiplying by the number of months designated by the fee schedule. Once the total amount for each time period was calculated, those totals were then added together to get the grand total.
The same was done for Le Cité, the only centre that charges by the day. In order to calculate a monthly total, the daily fee was multiplied by 22, the number of business days in an average month.