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Northern B.C. city in midst of child care crisis

Dawson Creek is only able to provide childcare for less than 20 percent of the 400 infants born each year in the community. 

With roughly 400 births per year in Dawson Creek, a lack of child care spaces is being felt by parents in the South Peace. As of October 2022, the city had only 79 infant and toddler spaces available for children under three years old. 

Michele Mobley, board director with the South Peace Building Learning Together Society, met with city council on Nov. 27, inviting the municipality to join a child care task force to seek solutions. 

“Affordability is not even the biggest issue, it’s availability and flexibility that’s really missing. We are lacking space for anyone who works before seven or after six, we have no overnight spaces, no weekend spaces,” said Mobley. “There’s a shortage of child care spaces with extra needs and the current wait list for infant and toddler space exceeds two years.” 

187 spaces are available for children ages three to five, and 140 before- and after-school spaces. 

“This often means that siblings need to be broken up and attend different day cares. Which is a burden for the children and for the parents,” Mobley noted. 

Parents in Dawson Creek approached the society with their concerns over child care, explained Mobley, which led to the creation of a living document which details the current needs of the community. 

“With this document, child care providers are able to access funding to create and expand centres and space,” she added. “Funding that simply isn’t available without a child care action plan - child care funding was lost during those years that we had no plan and now Dawson Creek is in a child care crisis.” 

Many parents are also healthcare professionals or work in manufacturing, occupations which are shift-based, says Mobley, adding to the difficulty of finding and paying for childcare.