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Parents are giving up their jobs as hundreds remain stuck on daycare waitlists in N.L.

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Nurse, hairstylist both find themselves facing 'heartbreaking' choice
Mullin, Malone & Antle, Sarah
Publication Date: 
8 May 2024


Alexia Pardy always wanted to be a nurse.


Pardy applied to several daycare waitlists in 2022, when she discovered she was expecting her second child.

Today, over two years later, she still hasn't found a place that will take her toddler — leaving her no other option but to quit her job and give up her nursing licence.


Hundreds of families in need of child care in Newfoundland and Labrador are on at least one waitlist, according to a Department of Education survey that's been running since October.

Data obtained through an access-to-information request shows at least 1,783 out of 2,621 respondents — or 68 per cent — to the Child Care Demand Portal survey have attempted to find child care and, at the time of answering the survey, had not secured a spot.

More than 800 of those respondents are on more than five waitlists, while 181 respondents are on at least 21 lists.
The province launched the survey site last fall "as a tool to assess and understand the current demand for child-care services," a government press release said at the time.

"The information from this portal will assist us to better focus on where space creation is needed most and guide plans for targeted space creation."


The department says more than 9,100 child-care spaces are currently operating for $10 a day across the province, with 2,200 more spaces in development.

But those spaces haven't helped Emma Whitt, a Mount Pearl mother of one, who found herself scrambling for a daycare spot when her stay-at-home husband received a full-time job offer.


Whitt, a self-employed hairstylist, says she's been left with an impossible decision: quit her beloved career until her son finally lands reliable care or pay a babysitter by the hour to look after him while she's at work.


"I always said I wanted to work when I had kids.… I love what I do, and if I had to step away from that I'd be heartbroken."

Whitt and Pardy each say they enjoy both their careers and motherhood but have been forced by circumstance to give up the former. They're now waiting in limbo without any hints at when they'll be able to return to work, their children safely looked after.