Pontiac daycare development in limbo amidst government backtrack


Tashi Farmilo
Local Journalism Initiative

Pontiac’s planned daycare development faces uncertainty, with recent government changes putting it in jeopardy.

In an interview with CHIP FM, Pontiac MNA André Fortin voiced apprehensions about the halt of the much-awaited daycare initiative. In March 2022, the government greenlighted additional daycare spaces for the CPE 123 Picabou, which involved buying a prefab home for a new land parcel.

However, the execution didn’t go smoothly. The government’s tendering process stumbled, with two attempts returning bids surpassing their estimates. Consequently, the project was shelved, leaving families, including critical workforce members like nurses and teachers, grappling with limited daycare alternatives.

“This leaves Pontiac facing a daycare space crunch for the foreseeable future, causing many, including healthcare professionals, to defer their job return. This issue extends to other regions too, affecting 43 daycare centers. The Liberal Party has consistently sought answers from the CAQ government, both in the Assembly and media. Yet, the future remains uncertain,” said Fortin.

Fortin highlighted the government’s oversight of depending exclusively on this single venture to fulfill daycare needs. As Pontiac was hinging on this project, it couldn’t participate in other potential projects. The conversation also threw light on the government’s favoritism of the CPE model, a broad-spectrum facility, sidelining home-based solutions. Though renowned for its consistent and top-tier care, the current challenges reflect its vulnerabilities.

“The project’s delay has disregarded other viable opportunities,” stated Fortin. “While awaiting these tenders, the government misjudged the region’s requirements. Their analysis, focusing on the 60 spots, deemed Pontiac well-equipped in daycare provisions, unintentionally barring us from other projects that could have bridged the current gap,” he added.

Carole St-Arnaud, director general of CPE 1-2-3 Picabou, explained their daycare facilities. They have various subsidized spaces across different venues and have secured land in Shawville for the 60-place facility, with 10 spots designated for infants. However, staffing remains a hurdle and they rely heavily on on-call substitute personnel.

In response, Catherine Pelletier, communications agent for the Cabinet de la ministre de la Famille, underscored the CAQ’s dedication to the early childhood network since 2021. Pointing to their numerous initiatives and progress in new space creation, she advised reaching out directly to the Ministry for specifics.

Fortin remains steadfast, stating he will prioritize the issue in the next Quebec City session.