Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the basic needs of families and communities is to be able to take care of their children.
Currently, a number of families in Yellowknife are facing a difficult situation. Mr. Speaker, just before Christmas, the Kids Corner daycare in my riding closed its doors. With only two weeks' notice of its closure, about 30 families of kids aged one through four were sent scrambling to find alternative care.
However, they don't have any options, Mr. Speaker. There aren't enough spaces to meet the demand. The Yellowknife Day Care Association, which recently opened its new building, already has a waiting list of nearly 150 kids.
Working with the Yellowknife Women's Society, the affected parents have come up with a solution, but it requires renovations to bring the Yellowknife Women's Society's building up to code for daycare operations. That requires significant capital funding, but the parents have been told that there will be no government support for capital investment. The department has stated in the past that it doesn't want to interfere with a private market-driven industry.
However, Mr. Speaker, the private market isn't providing daycare spaces. Our communities are simply too small to generate a business case for the private market to invest in new infrastructure. There is no return on investment.
Mr. Speaker, we have hit a wall. There won't be more daycare spaces without a government commitment to new capital infrastructure funding. Families will go without an essential service. The department needs to step up and get these facilities built. Once the facilities are there, NGOs or parent cooperatives can take it on management and operations, but, without the actual bricks and mortar, that can't happen.
This lack of infrastructure is also leading to a rise in the number of unlicensed day home operators. That can result in more children being put at risk, and that is not acceptable by any definition.
Mr. Speaker, for young families, it is essential to have access to reliable, safe, progressive childcare. Without it, their ability to pursue a career, achieve financial security, and allow their family to grow and prosper is compromised. That goes directly against our mandate priorities for stronger communities.
Mr. Speaker, a reliable childcare system is an investment in our future. I urge the Minister to consider stronger support for childcare infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.