This permit, if passed by council, will require Calgary dayhome operators to obtain a business permit starting January 1, 2023.
Learn more about this permit and the proposed requirements.
HOW DID THIS PERMIT COME ABOUT AND WHY IS IT NEEDED?
In Calgary, there have been several tragedies that have occurred within dayhome programs, both licensed and unlicensed.
One of the most significant tragedies to date was the death of Mackenzy Jane Woolfsmith while in the care of her dayhome provider.
Mackenzy’s death led to a lengthy fatality inquiry that resulted in 10 recommendations being made to the Government of Alberta to help make child care safer in the province – both in licensed and unlicensed programs.
The report speaks directly to the isolation and caregiver fatigue that is often experienced within in-home child care as providers work long hours and are often alone.
Justice Hawkes recommended that the Government of Alberta adopt a risk based approach to child care – in all settings – and that they move from a reactive system to a proactive system where all providers are supported and have access to resources that can help them beat the isolation and burnout that is so common in our industry.
The Government of Alberta accepted, in principle, each of the recommendations made by Justice Hawkes but to date, no substantive change has been made to meet the recommendations.
MACKENZY'S LEGACY MEETS WITH CALGARY CITY COUNCILLORS
In September of 2021, Mackenzy’s Legacy co-founders met with then Councillor, Jyoti Gondek, about the non-existence of any minimum regulations or support for unlicensed child care providers in Calgary.
This meeting resulted in Councillor Gondek drafting a Notice of Motion that would authorize City Administration to determine whether the City of Calgary has the legal and jurisdictional ability to license and set minimum requirements for home-based child care businesses and to create a publicly-accessible database of municipally licensed service providers.
CITY ADMINISTRATION BEGINS WORK
The motion passed unanimously and City of Calgary began a thorough engagement process that saw them research all legal avenues while also reaching out to child care agencies, organizations, providers and parents to help them determine if a permit for unlicensed in-home child care was possible and practical.
This work included conducting a city wide public survey where parents and providers could share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed business permit.
After collecting a variety of data, City of Calgary released a report titled “What We Heard” where over 60% of providers and parents surveyed welcomed the idea of a City of Calgary Business Permit for unlicensed child care providers.
CITY ADMINISTRATION PRESENTS THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
With all data collected, City of Calgary Administration presented their findings to the Community Development Committee on July 28, 2022.
In their presentation, City Administration asked that the Community Development Committee recommend that Council:
1. Give three readings to the proposed amendments to the Business Licence Bylaw 32M98 with a proposed effective date of 2023 January 1;
2. Direct Administration to consider the land use planning and development tools referenced in Notice of Motion PFC2021-1129 to enable child care development as part of the broader Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 renewal project.
WHAT OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE?
In their final report to the Community Development Committee (Report CD2022-0910), City Administration also committed to exploring opportunities to add additional value to the licence by creating an online database to help connect families with municipally licensed providers and by partnering with community groups and child care sector organizations to offer resources and support to licence holders.
This is great news and speaks to the desire from City of Calgary to make this permit about more than just enforcing minimum standards. City of Calgary understands that enhancing safety will require a well-rounded approach that focusses on minimum safety standards and support for both providers and parents.
WHAT NEW REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE PUT IN PLACE THROUGH THIS PERMIT?
There is no current legislation, both provincially or within the City of Calgary, that requires any minimum standards be met by unlicensed in home child care providers.
Unlicensed child care is legally permitted within the province and the City of Calgary but unlicensed in-home child care providers are not currently required to obtain a business license to operate.
The proposed amendment to business license bylaw 32M98 would come into effect on January 1, 2023, and would require any unlicensed in home child care provider who is caring for children for more than 6 hours per week to obtain a City of Calgary Business Permit.
This permit would come with the requirement that the dayhome operator have valid first aid and criminal record check with vulnerable sector, and would require that any resident in the home over the age of 18 obtain a criminal record check with vulnerable sector as well.
HOW DOES THIS ENHANCE SAFETY IN CALGARY?
Both the City of Calgary and Embolden PDC recognize that requiring only a criminal record check or only first aid would be a missed opportunity to enhance safety in unlicensed child care within the City of Calgary.
That is why Embolden PDC has worked tirelessly to ensure that City of Calgary Administration understands the importance of a proactive and risk based approach to unlicensed child care which includes supporting the private dayhome workforce.
Multitudes of research studies have shown that offering support to child care providers (especially those in home based settings) reduces risk and enhances both safety and quality.
In Alberta, there are no legislative mechanisms in place that can prevent a variety of problematic situations within unlicensed in-home child care.
A provider can have a criminal conviction and still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
A spouse, roommate, or other adult in the home can have a criminal conviction and the provider can still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
A provider can struggle with substance use and still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
A provider can struggle with severe mental health and still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
A provider can be under investigation for child abuse and still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
A spouse, roommate, or other adult in the home can be under investigation for child abuse and the provider can still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
A provider can have a file open with Child Protective Services and still operate an unlicensed dayhome.
We know that the majority of the unlicensed dayhome community is not reflected in any of these situations, but the fact remains that there is nothing to prevent unsafe providers from operating an unlicensed dayhome in Alberta.
And while we recognize that a City of Calgary business permit could never eliminate these situations completely, we feel that the proposed business permit is an important first step to making unlicensed child care safer.
ENSURING SUPPORT FOR PRIVATE DAYHOME PROVIDERS
As unlicensed dayhome providers, we cannot expect the City of Calgary or the province of Alberta to support our workforce when we are unwilling to pass basic safety checks or pay for a business permit just like every other business in Alberta is required to.
As dayhome operators, we are legitimate business owners who can anticipate reasonable business expenses and requirements in order to conduct business activities.
And in exchange, when we are willing to conduct ourselves as legitimate businesses, we can expect the same support that is offered to other small businesses through both our municipalities and the province.
Many municipalities offer a variety of resources to small business owners. With a current business license you may have access to:
-Local chamber of commerce where businesses can connect with a variety of programs to help support business growth
– A municipal database of local businesses
– Emergency notifications and relief efforts in the event of a local emergency
– Opportunity to share opinions and experiences to help enhance support and resources offered to small businesses
– And so much more
However, most importantly, the proposed business permit through the City of Calgary will offer industry specific resources and support that is relevant to child care providers and the services they provide. And we look forward to starting conversations with the City of Calgary in the coming months to ensure that the support offered to unlicensed providers through a City of Calgary permit is relevant and impacting.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
The proposed business permit must pass through 3 readings by council before it can be enacted.
If enacted, the permit would come into effect on January 1, 2023.
Unlicensed Calgary dayhome providers would not be required to cease business operations while their application is being processed.
Calgary citizens can reach out to their councillors to discuss this proposed business permit and any questions or concerns they may have.
IT'S TIME TO TAKE OUR SEAT AT THE TABLE
When the majority of child care in Canada is offered by unlicensed in-home child care providers – it’s time that we are viewed as legitimate small businesses – many of which are women owned and operated.
This permit proposed by the City of Calgary is a meaningful way for us to show that we are more than babysitters and that we take our roles as dayhome providers seriously.
Embolden PDC does not feel threatened by this permit and we know that our community will have no issues meeting the requirements set out by the City of Calgary.
We look forward to future opportunities where we can continue advocating for quality unlicensed child care in the province and the providers who offer it.