At the end of January, the Quebec Ministère de l’Emploi, de la Solidarité sociale et de la Famille (MFE) announced that 427 new daycare places will be available in 10 northern Native communities.

Of that number, 270 of the new places have been designated to the Cree communities of Wemindji, Waswanipi, Chisasibi and Mistissini.

In Chisasibi alone, there are 123 people on the waiting list for low-cost daycare spaces at Anjabowa. At full capacity right now with 49 children, Anjabowa is anxiously awaiting the completion of a new building, which will be done by the end of February and have capacity for an additional 80 children. Another new building is to begin construction in September and will also have 80 places. By the end of construction in 2005, there will be 240 places available and 66 employees. This more than triples the current number of employees of 21.

Wemindji’s daycare is also awaiting construction of a new building, as they are currently fulled to capacity with 65 places. The daycare, Kanawhymigoo, will be getting funding for 30 new places from the MFE while the new building will have another 65 places.

The 270 places were allocated under an agreement signed with the Cree Regional Authority that gives the CRA more autonomy in the management of daycare services. The CRA now has the power to administer subsidies, handle daycare permits, to look after the inspection of the daycare services and deal with complaints.

These were part of a four-year-old promise to develop 1,500 low-cost daycare places in Northern Quebec. Since 2001, only 1,073 had been authorized. With these 427 new places, the ministère has completed the development plan set out for the Native communities.