Childcare centres in Regina are feeling the pinch from city taxes.
“The financial challenges facing Regina’s not-for-profit daycares highlights the need for a meaningful review of our commercial and residential property tax rates,” says Ward 3 City Council candidate, Andrew Stevens. “It’s shameful that these facilities are required to rely on fundraisers in order to offer quality services, especially when affordable childcare space is in high demand.”
This reality has prompted the Cathedral Area Cooperative Daycare board president, Colleen Schmidt to appeal to the provincial government for a property tax exemption for all licensed non-profit daycares in Saskatchewan. If these facilities were covered by the Education Act, like other early learning centres in the city, they would exempt from having to pay property taxes altogether.
City Council needs to pay attention to the important role independent childcare centres play in our city. The current commercial tax rate puts these independent facilities in financial jeopardy and risks making childcare services less affordable for parents.
According to a living wage study authored by Andrew Stevens, “Working for a Living Wage Around the Ivory Tower,” childcare costs constitute the largest financial strains on households after monthly housing expenses.
Schmidt’s appeal also reveals the need for the province and the federal government to institute a proper childcare strategy. In the short-term, Council should consider a temporary exemption for daycares until the legal appeal is resolved. The city granted similar leniency to curling clubs in order to allow those institutions time to revise their business model.
“Ultimately, ad hoc exemptions are not the solution for daycares and other not-for-profit organizations, but in this case it could provide some time to establish a long-term fix.” According to Andrew, this might involve establishing new commercial property class mill rates in Regina. By working together with non-profit daycares in our community, Council can help confront these challenges.