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Parents and staff fight to stop merger of Glebe childcare centre

Parents and staff of Glebe Parents' Day Care held a rally on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in opposition of a planned merger with Andrew Fleck Children's Services. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV News Ottawa) Parents and staff of Glebe Parents' Day Care held a rally on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in opposition of a planned merger with Andrew Fleck Children's Services. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV News Ottawa)
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Parents and staff in the Glebe are fighting to save their community-based childcare centre from a potential merger as it faces financial difficulties.

"This came as a huge surprise," said parent Josh Tabish. "If there's a huge problem with the daycare, we deserve to know about it."

Tabish says he and other parents were blindsided after they received an email on Monday from the Glebe Parents' Day Care, saying it's considering an amalgamation with Andrew Fleck Children's Services.

"In recent years we've been experiencing important overlapping challenges, as have many daycares. Those include programmatic, financial and governance challenges, which could put our continued operations at risk," said Patrick Saunders-Hastings, chair of the board of directors. "So the board has been and is considering options to stabilize daycare operations, to continue providing high quality essential services across the Glebe and surrounding communities."

The non-profit has been a pillar in the community for more than 50 years, with more than 300 childcare spaces across four locations.

"The organization is a co-operative," said parent Erin Gilmer. "There's supposed to be regular communication with parents as members to help in the running of the organization."

But both parents and staff say they've been left in the dark.

"Staff were not aware; it actually wasn't even an agenda item on the last number of board meetings, so the financial concerns definitely have not been communicated to everyone in this drastic way," said staff member Athina Basiliadis.

In a statement to CTV News, the City of Ottawa says the daycare contacted the city and "expressed a dire situation with a significant risk of closure."

"The organization developed a plan to merge with Andrew Fleck Children's Services and demonstrated that this will result in the long-term viability of these spaces. The City of Ottawa is providing the necessary one-time provincial transformation funding supports to implement the plan to ensure these essential spaces are not lost in our community," said Jason Sabourin, director of Children's Services.

According to a document sent to parents, the funding includes more than $1 million, which will be used for things like building maintenance and play-based materials.

"We just want the board to be transparent in how they're operating and how they move forward and to involve the staff members and the community members in this because there's a lot at stake for them as well," said Carling Shatford with CUPE 2204.

At the same time, the board says if the merger does go through, nothing will change for parents and staff will have options.

"Parents and staff will be receiving more information about the opportunity and also having a chance to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of amalgamation. So no final decision has been made," said Saunders-Hastings.

Staff and parents held a rally on Wednesday night and a petition has been launched against the amalgamtion, which now has more than 900 signatures.

"This is a community based daycare program and so if there's problems the community deserves an opportunity to try and fix them before we hand over ownership to somebody else," said Tabish.

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