The Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee spent a big chunk of their first meeting of 2017 pitching ideas into how the municipality could get more qualified early childcare providers.
The need was brought to the attention of the committee by the Early Year’s Coalition who explained that 126 vacancies must be filled, 18 of which need highly qualified providers. Right now, 522 kids are currently on a wait list.
“Every community has a wait list in childcare, but when you’re looking at 522 children on a wait list and 122 could be in childcare tomorrow if we had the employees,” said Chantal Beaver, Co-Chair of the Coalition.
The number of staff across the community saw a drop after the wildfire with many leaving the area. While there are programs and daycare’s available some are seeing barriers such as language and culture.
Some ideas which were brought up include bringing a program to Keyano College. The province recently added a plumbing course to the school to add more local talent, the hope is they can do the same with early childcare.
However, as Committee Member Marty Giles put it, this idea won’t help the situation right now.
“Even if you could get forty students through in a year, you’re 126 short. In the HR world whenever you’re trying to hire people you also have this choice; do we build or do we buy.”
The only available option seem to be “steal” talent from outside of the region, as Giles puts it.
Beaver adds the province and industry have been in talks with the coalition and are trying to figure out the best way to ensure children of all ages get the care and education they need.