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Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Al Hawkins (right) with Kaylie Webber (left) and Etta O’Brien, two of the participants in the Pumpkin House daycare.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Al Hawkins (right) with Kaylie Webber (left) and Etta O’Brien, two of the participants in the Pumpkin House daycare. - Evan Careen

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Al Hawkins was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Nov. 16 to announce funding for 30 more childcare spaces for the afterschool program at Pumpkin House in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“I think it’s important for us to invest in our children,” Hawkins said. “It’s important in building a better future for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

In total the provincial government has invested $905,062 to the Early Childhood Development Association (ECDA), which is spearheading the project. With these new spots it brings the program capacity up to 123 spaces.

“We’re excited we’re here in Happy Valley-Goose Bay today to make sure this program and initiative we have put in place continues,” Hawkins said. “As a government we’re very pleased to provide this substantial investment, almost a million dollars, which impacts not only the ECDA and the child care centre, but all of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.”

Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper was also there for the announcement and said he’s very happy to hear about the additional funding. Trimper said he knows the community has lost people in the past due to lack of child care and hopes this can help change that.

“It’s a basic requirement for anyone living in a community, whether you’re from away or from here, to have the basic ability to leave your children in a regulated safe environment for your children,” Trimper said.

He said he looks at it not just as 30 more spaces but 30 more families that can use the service.

Colin O’Brien, vice president of the ECDA, said they’re very happy with the announcement and it now makes them, as a not for profit volunteer program, one of the largest childcare centres in the province.

“We take an exceptional amount of pride in that,” he said. “We talk about the need, the need is real. We won’t be able to address all of the wait list but we will be able to address the highest need areas.”

He said the after-school spots are in addition to the 30 spots already available through the Pump Kids program at Peacock Primary School, so it’s a great help. They still have just under 200 people still on the wait list and hope to be able to address that more going forward.

The new Pumpkin House facility is expected to be completed this spring.

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