With over 20 childcare staff positions remaining unfilled in Grande Prairie, officials with YMCA of Northern Alberta are calling on the provincial government to provide the organization with the same funding as schools are receiving to help them through the latest wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
VP Childcare YMCA Northern Alberta Annalise Yuzda says while they had a staff shortage before COVID-19, it has been amplified during the omicron variant wave of the pandemic. She says the staff shortages aren’t specific to the Peace Country, but it’s a city that is very much under pressure.
“20 per cent in Alberta, but we currently have 20 positions open in Grande Prairie specifically that we can’t fill,” she says.
“We are having to close rooms or centres because we cannot have staff, our staff either have symptoms, have COVID-19, their children have COVID-19, or they’re isolating.”
Yuzda says the funding would not only help them hopefully shore up some of those staffing shortages, but it will help in the short term when it comes to covering the cost of running what is less than full programs. She says the services provided by organizations like YMCA northern Alberta are pivotal for the recovery of the economy, as if parents can’t find reliable childcare, it can cause serious hurdles
“We do refund parents fees because they’re obviously not using them but we still have operating costs to cover,” she says.
“I feel for the families who, on quite short notice sometimes, have to find other childcare options because of the staffing crisis we are currently experiencing,” she adds.
She says support from the provincial government is crucial to keeping their staff team healthy, working, and serving communities.