Onsite daycare still a scarce commodity

Allison Dunfield, Globe and Mail

For working parents, the joys of having a new baby can swiftly diminish when faced with finding safe, loving child care once maternity leave ends.

The Top 100 Employers list includes a dozen employers offering this family-friendly perk. Some also offer attractive advantages not always available at regular licensed daycares, including environmental programs, highly trained instructors and unique environments.

At Simon Fraser University, providing superior onsite childcare has been part of the institution’s philosophy for decades. the first buildings opened at the Burnaby, B.C., campus in 1978 and the daycare has grown to include 283 spaces. …. But more than being unique in design, the SFU Childcare Society is about quality childcare, says Pat Frouws, executive director….

Ms. Frouws says employers considering onsite daycares should not just focus on creating a space for it, but ensure that the care is superior.

“Imagine if you are teaching and working, knowing your children are in one of the best facilities in the province or country. You can attend to your job a lot easier.”

Workplace daycare is not common in Canada. One often-repeated reason is that setting up a new daycare is a costly venture – $10,000 per year per new child care space, according to 2006 Ontario government figures. Thus, most companies don’t want to take on either the cost or the responsibility of getting into the child care business.

On the current Top 100 list, the majority of companies offering on-site daycare are either in British Columbia or Quebec.

One of those, the head office of Ledcor Group of Companies in Vancouver, offers a licensed daycare within its office tower, which it shares with several other employers.

Adam Cochrane, who is director of preconstruction and business development for Ledcor, says the Shaw Tower Children’s Centre has been a lifesaver for his family…

He says another advantage of the centre is that because he knows that the care is high quality, he is able to go about his work day worry-free. “Trying to find a group that will look after your kids like you want them to be looked after, it puts your mind at ease.”…

Providing daycare goes back to supporting workers who want to have children, he says, in order to ensure the long-term growth of the company with staff who are highly skilled and motivated….