Staffing issues affecting Nunavut daycares, MLA says

George Hickes questions education minister over compensation for childcare workers

Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes questions Nunavut Education Minister Pamela Gross at the legislative assembly Tuesday, asking her what the education department is doing to address not only the lack of daycare spots but the staffing shortage influencing their operation and use. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Meral Jamal

Staffing issues are impacting the availability of existing daycare spots and Nunavut’s ability to create more spaces, according to Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes.

He said the issue is not new, and the lack of staff to operate daycare facilities is a problem Canada-wide.

“Questions are continuing to rise on the wisdom of governments announcing that they’re building new childcare spaces when workers aren’t available to staff existing ones,” Hickes said at the legislative assembly Tuesday.

“There are many stories of daycare centres running at half capacity, asking parents to take their kids out of care for a day or two or a week, even shutting down operations entirely, all for lack of staff,” Hickes added.

“The staffing crisis threatens to make an already long wait for daycare spots even longer. This worker shortage jeopardizes and threatens the vision of making affordable, high-quality daycare accessible for all parents.”

Across Nunavut, a total of 1,082 licensed daycare spots serve approximately 4,385 children from infants to those four years old, according to the 2021 census.

The Government of Nunavut has committed to creating 238 new childcare spots by March 2026.

Hickes questioned Education Minister Pamela Gross on what her department is doing to address not only the lack of daycare spots in Nunavut, but the staffing shortage he said influences their operation and availability.

“It’s been stated that it’s the worst workforce crisis childcare has ever faced,” Hickes said during question period.

“Childcare advocates say the root cause involves poor wages and benefits, giving workers little incentive to stay in the sector.”

Gross responded, saying the Education Department works with local organizations and individuals interested in opening and operating  daycares in their community.

To help address “wage fairness” for childcare workers, Gross said her department is working to create a wage grid to provide parity across the system.

It is also using interim measures for licensed staff at licensed childcare facilities, such as a wage top-up and retention bonus.

“The wage top-up is $4.50 an hour above the worker’s current pay, and out of the 52 childcare centres we have supported over $2.5 million for this fiscal year,” Gross said.

“We’ve also had a retention bonus that was offered to our full-time childcare workers, who received $4,000 twice this year, part-time childcare workers received $2,000 twice this year, and casual childcare workers received $1,000 twice this year.

“So out of that, 47 childcare centres accessed the retention bonus, which amounts to over $2.6 million.”



Share This Story

(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by She on

    I’m so glad this is being raised. I think a lot of good work has been done but at the end of the day the staffing and retention of daycare teachers is the core issue. They need more money, more support, and housing.

    • Posted by Truth is… on

      The idea that you can distribute housing for every job in Nunavut is completely impractical.

      • Posted by Brambleberry on

        @Truth Is…

        You don’t have to provide housing for every job you post in Nunavut…just the ones you want to fill!

      • Posted by Truth is actually… on

        While impractical, it’s completely impracticable to even live in Nunavut in the first place. Over 75% of people don’t own the home they live in. The fact is if you’re not getting a home through your job you’re getting it through social security, for the majority of people that is.

        You might as well offer it via a job since the gov’t is paying for unproductive people sitting at home in nearly free via social housing anyways. Atleast with employee housing that means that individual is working.

        Homeownership simply isn’t worth it since if you’re in a position to own your own home you’re likely eligible for most jobs that come with housing anyways and the typical employee rent paid is so minimal that the extra savings invested will easily offset any appreciation of a home dispite it bring a leveraged investment. There’s zero incentive at this point with rising homeownership costs and headaches of owning property in Nunavut.

        There’s obviously a group that obtained homes when it was more feisable but that does not represent the populace at large.

        Nunavut is the very definition of impractical and nothing’s getting more practical while the price of everything surges.

        • Posted by 867 on

          Home ownership is usually low on the list of priorities even for those with high-paying jobs. Instead of a down payment on a mortgage, let’s buy a bunch of trucks and boats and snowmachines, all of which will break down in no time.

          And sorry sir but everyone is facing staff shortages and it doesn’t have anything to do with lack of people being able to work, but more just lack of people wanting to work.

  2. Posted by Math on

    People won’t be willing to work until the government starts taking away all the free money that is so easily available to Nunavut residents who can easily choose not to work and live off of the taxes that working people pay.

    There are so many unemployed adults in Nunavut. It’s obvious that paying people to do nothing and still hoping they will somehow get motivated on their own to become productive members of society is not working, and it’s never going to work. Paying people to do nothing means they will not do the jobs that the territory needs to have done.

    • Posted by S on

      Thanks Math. As a political entity, Nunavut is a third-world state on welfare. As you suggest there is no incentive to work – even among those who are paid-to-work in government positions. That extends across the board; administrators, operations staff, tradespeople, board members, professionals, ad infinitum … and in every department, agency, municipal entity, and IA.

      The few dedicated staff who do attempt an honest day’s work leave their positions, and the territory, after a short period – disappointed and disillusioned. The paunchy incompetents and their brethren, who excel in working the system, remain – advancing in the ranks.

      There is no political entity on the planet less socially sustainable than Nunavut. That is undeniable.

      Nunavut’s society is irreparable without wholesale disruption at the top of every Nunavut political institution and a complete paradigm shift among the masses.

      Unfortunately, Canada’s complacent democracy is geared toward its own and Nunavut’s status quo – or further decline from that.

      • Posted by Taxpayer on

        One is reminded of the March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman, which focusses on the persistence of error in government policies contrary to their own self interests, with a focus on US involvement in Vietnam.

        There are parallels with Canada and Nunavut. Canada wants a vibrant, self sufficient, diverse and democratic northern part of Confederation. Ottawa funnels huge effort and national treasure into the north in order to accomplish this, and has done so for a quarter of a century. Into a part of the country that is distinctly different culturally, linguistically and socially from the rest of the nation.

        This approach -of doing for Nunavummuit what Nunavummuit should be doing for themselves through the use of a local elite- will inevitably have the same trajectory as what lead to the US withdrawal from South Vietnam. At a certain point, a new modern society up here cannot maintain itself only on the efforts of southern Canadians.

        Post-War Vietnam is a reformed, peaceful one party state that has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for Canada.

  3. Posted by ol’ twitchy mcgee on

    What is Nunavut doing to compete with the south in order to get daycare workers, teachers, nurses, etc.? It’s an employee’s world right now, not an employer’s world. Where are the plumbers and other tradespeople you need to fix all your broken systems? Stop creating administrator and government positions and paying them six digit salaries. Figure out how to get the workers you really need or you will continue your descent into chaos.

    • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

      Nunavut is expensive, and six figures should be at reach for even trades people.

      I saw an article about the 10$ a day daycare.. no wonder they’re having issues. Idk if a daycare can run on 10$ a day/child in Nunavut. It’s a expensive thing to run for so little put in. Unprofitable.

      • Posted by Embarrassing on

        Just because parents only pay $10 does not mean that is the only source of incoming revenue for our daycares. Please, Mr. Miyagi… learn a little about what is meant by a ‘subsidy’ and who is covering the rest of the expenses.

      • Posted by Uhh… on

        Tradespeoples should be paid much higher than nearly anyone else in Nunavut. And often, they are. A highly skilled red seal journeyman can easily clear $200,000/year, and righteously so. Your comment is… odd. Tradespeople are the backbone of Nunavut’s crumbing infrastructure and without them, there wouldnt be a Nunavut.

        Any daycare worker should also have an ECE certificate or diploma at a minimum, but in most community’s, they’re so desperate for staff that they’re willing to hire just about anybody, even if they’re completely unreliable or not compatible with kids.

        • Posted by Harold on

          Arent you and twitchy saying the same thing? Why is his comment odd? You both say nunavut needs tradespeople. He is saying dont need so many administrators. plz read comments before replying.

          • Posted by Uhhhhhhhhhhh? on

            Maybe check the reply order. Comment replying to Mr Miyagi not Twitchy McGee. Plz check who’s replying to who before commenting.

    • Posted by What are you even saying? on

      The idea that Nunavut is competing with the south for daycare workers is pure fiction.

      • Posted by Tired on

        This is pure naivete. The idea that we, a jurisdiction with a largely transient work force, AREN’T competing with the south is ludicrous.

        The only reason I came here in the first place is because the choices I made in my youth precluded me from gainful participation in the southern economy. If I got a diploma tomorrow, in literally anything. I would live in Ontario on Monday.

  4. Posted by Take care of the existing first on

    We are coming up on over a year with the 4.50 wage top up for childcare workers, plus the retention bonuses and childcare facilities are still grossly understaffed. As this increase in wages is sorely needed, deserved and appreciated, in addition to this increase, the only solution to this crisis is to provide housing. This would have to come from the GN or another entity as the majority of daycares are non-profit.

    • Posted by S on

      Thanks for your note, “Take care of the existing first”

      Alas, changes to housing availability and wages are not the solutions

      There are numerous individuals in Nunavut who are gainfully unemployed. There are many other who are officially unemployed, at home …. caring for their, or another’s, children

      It is long-time overdue for the fix to be implemented in Nunavut. I am reminded of the childhood book, “Muddy Corners”

  5. Posted by Manapik on

    Build more daycares in larger communities, not enough daycare spaces here in Rankin. Money is available to pay wages but no place.

    • Posted by S on

      Why aren’t more people caring for their own children? Why aren’t individuals building daycares or converting their homes to daycares from 9 to 5?

      • Posted by Ignorance abounds on

        “Why aren’t more people caring for their own children? ”

        People who rely on daycares typically work 9-5. Believe it or not.


Comments are closed.