N.L. creating new daycare spaces for health professionals with irregular hours

A man stands at a podium in front of three banners. A large statue of Buzz Lightyear as tall as the room itself stands in the background.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey announced Thursday that the government is partnering with the YMCA to create 160 new child-care spaces for health-care professionals in St. John’s, Bonavista and Corner Brook. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is partnering with the YMCA to create new daycare spaces exclusively for health-care professionals with hours outside the standard workday.

The province will open around 160 new $10-per-day spaces in at a new building on St. Michael’s Avenue in St. John’s, Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista and Eastside Elementary in Corner Brook. The spaces should be ready in the next six months and will have hours that meet the needs of medical professionals, said Premier Andrew Furey at an announcement Thursday.

“Your job often starts at 7 a.m. May end at four, may not end at four,” said Furey, who is also an orthopedic surgeon.

“That creates significant child-care issues.… I’ve seen nurses scrambling in the background scrambling being scrubbed, calling out their friends to try and arrange child care for them, and an initiative like this will actually go a long, long way to provide certainty to the hard-working women and men in the system.”

Furey said the program’s longer-term goal is to provide 24/7 child-care options for those who work varying shifts, adding it could attract more nurses and other medical professionals to the province.

“What we are hearing, loud and clear across all medical disciplines, is what people want the most is the professional-personal balance. And this will unlock that for them,” he said.

A woman with brown hair and glasses stands in front of a banner for the YMCA.
Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador president Yvette Coffey says health-care professionals are in desperate need of child-care spaces. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The announcement comes after nearly 2,000 health-care workers were surveyed about their child-care needs. Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the need is desperate.

“It has prevented nurses coming back from maternity leave, or paternity leave who have held permanent positions having to resign to go casual because they have no one to care for their children during their shifts,” Coffey said, adding she hopes the program can increase the number of permanent employees in the system.

Education Minister Krista Lynn Howell didn’t have details about how health-care professionals can register for the spaces but said they should register with the province’s child-care demand portal to help officials get full picture of the need for care.

WATCH |  Health care isn’t 9 to 5. Child care shouldn’t be either, says nurses’ union:

New daycares to open for health workers — and they’ll operate more than just 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Featured VideoThe president of Newfoundland and Labrador’s nurses’ union hopes three new daycare sites announced by the provincial government will get more nurses and other health professionals back to work by supporting their irregular schedules.

YMCA Newfoundland and Labrador president Jason Brown said the organization is happy to be a part of the program. He said staffing the sites within six months could be challenging but there are many early childhood educators in the training pipeline who will be ready to begin work within a year.

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