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Province eases stance on locking daycares says it will review individual cases, provide funds

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Author: 
Rollason, Kevin
Publication Date: 
18 May 2010
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EXCERPTS

A security policy that requires all daycares and nursery schools to
lock their doors at all times is being clarified by the provincial
government.

Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said Monday that letters
are going out to the province's 600 daycare centres to ensure they know
they have until next year to implement new security features, including
locked doors, intercoms and buzzers to let people in.

Mackintosh said the province will provide the expertise to
daycares to show them what they will need to meet the policy. And he
said daycares will receive funding to install the security measures.

"Since they must have locks (on doors) the idea was to use them
when the wee ones were inside," he said. "We want children outside
getting fresh air, going to libraries... it's just to use the locks when
they're inside."

But Mackintosh said the government recognizes that many of the
daycares are in buildings they don't own -- like schools -- which have
"elaborate methods of entry" so it might be difficult or impossible to
comply.

"There are no consequences to being late. We will analyze the
barriers and the cost which the province will fund," he said.

A provincial spokeswoman also said there are no penalties if it
turns out an individual daycare would never be able to comply with the
policy.

But that's not what the March 15, 2010, letter sent out by the
province to the daycares said.

The letter, from Lois Speirs, the acting director of the Manitoba
Child Care Program, said "effective one year from now on April 1, 2011,
all child care centres will be required to have a locked door policy."

The letter said the daycares had to submit an interim plan for
controlling visitor access within two weeks and a transition plan for
compliance by June 1.

In bold print, the letter stated: "Carefully review the
information sheet and follow the steps applicable to your centre to
ensure compliance at this time."

It also says elsewhere that "if a locked door policy is not
immediately possible at your centre, you will be required to submit a
transition plan by June 1, 2010, outlining how your centre will come
into compliance by April 1, 2011.

Nowhere in the letter does it mention that the province would be
willing to pay for the security improvements at individual daycares.

Don Giesbrecht, president of the Canadian Child Care Federation
and executive director of the Assiniboine Children's Centre, located in
Ecole Assiniboine in St. James, said daycares wouldn't have made the new
security measures an issue if the province had said in March what it is
saying now.

"It sounds a lot better now," Giesbrecht said.

"The province now says they're going to work with us, but
everything we had was to have it in place by the end of April 2011. They
never said they would work with us and there might be dollars."

Giesbrecht, whose daycare is spread on different floors and at
different ends of the school, said it would cost about $20,000 to put in
place the security system the province is talking about, and that would
have come at the expense of programs it runs.

"No one is saying it's not a good idea," he said.

"But you need your landlord to say yes and it is still a big
chunk in our budget."

...
-reprinted from the Winnipeg Free Press

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Entered Date: 
19 May 2010
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