An artist’s drawing of the new St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic School that will be built in Whitby, Ont. Illustration courtesy Durham Catholic District School Board

New school to feature child care

By 
  • September 21, 2019

There will be some much younger faces within the walls of St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic School in Whitby after its re-build is complete.

The school has become part of an Ontario government initiative to create more child care spots, which means plans for the new $11.4-million school will include a child care room with space for 24 children as well as an EarlyON Child and Family Centre.

The Ministry of Education granted approval for the Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) to demolish the current school, which was built in 1990, and rebuild it at the same location at 250 Michael Blvd. It will include space for more than 320 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. 

The school has shut its doors for this academic year and students have been moved to St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, about a kilometre and a half away, where they are in portables while the new school is being built.

The new day care will be run by non-profit service providers.

“The services and lessons would be provided by the child-care service provider, and the programs and lessons are established by them,” said Scott Grieve, superintendent of facilities, maintenance and custodial services at the DCDSB.

Drop-in programs will be available for children from birth to six years old at the new facilities which will operate between 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Grieve said the board has plans to add more child-care facilities in other elementary schools. 

Child care was an important aspect of the rebuilding project, said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, at the announcement at All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby on Aug. 27. 

“We’re providing families with relief when it comes to the challenges of finding affordable and accessible child care,” said Lecce. “I recognize that … for many years, child care has risen now to the highest levels, the most expensive child care in the country. I believe that is an unacceptable proposition for parents in the province who are working harder and taking home less.”

Lecee said the new Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses tax credit would provide 300,000 families with up to 75 per cent of their eligible child care expenses and allow families a broad range of child care options, including care in centres, homes and camps. 

Families could receive up to $6,000 a year for a child under seven, up to $3,750 for children 7-16, and up to $8,250 for a child with a severe disability. 

The province announced $13 billion to modernize schools over the next 10 years. This also includes a $1-billion pledge over the next five years to create up to 30,000 child-care spaces, with 10,000 of those built in new schools.

“These types of rooms are part of a ministry mandate to increase child-care spaces in schools across the province and are available in the majority of our schools,” said Grieve. “In addition to the ministry mandate, these rooms and programs provide a connection for pre-school children to progress into the kindergarten programs, and it offers a link for parents to their local Catholic schools.”

Funds for the project come from last year’s capital priorities program.

“We put those dollars on the table,” said Lecce. “I made that approval in my capacity as the minister. It came to my desk a few weeks ago, and going forward we’re building upon that. We’re allocating half a billion in renews to build new schools, and $1.3 billion in the budget this year and thereafter for the renewal of existing schools in the province of Ontario.”

There is backlog of $102 million in disrepairs in publicly funded schools just in Whitby, according to a parent-led, non-partisan campaign called Fix Our Schools.

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