Jim Mustard

CHETICAMP: The subject of having the province’s Before and After Care Program expand into Inverness County caused once Inverness Municipal Councillor to voice his frustration with the provincial government.

“The Ivany Commission Report cites the number one priority is ‘The Early Years: Starting Strong,’ and I’m frustrated all to hell that we’re being downloaded it all again without any consultation,” said Jim Mustard, councillor for Inverness and area. “Here, why don’t you do the pre-primary? Here, why don’t you do the after school program too?

“The frustration is, yes, there’s a need for anyone in pre-primary as to what they do before and after school. I get that, but let’s have a conversation with the province and let’s talk about what we need to coordinate this across the region.”

The program is offered in conjunction to the Pre-Primary Program, and it would provide care for pre-primary kids before and after school.

He said the idea that such programs can be quarterbacked by volunteers and municipal councillors was “stupid.” Having a paid position across the region to take the lead on such matters would be a conversation worth having, he said, but existing municipal staff just does not have enough hours in their day to take the lead themselves.

“I’m not saying we don’t want to be partners in this but I’m saying we don’t have the capacity right now for what needs to be dedicated to this,” he said.

The matter arose during last Thursday’s September meeting of council. At that time, Donna MacDonald, director of recreation/tourism, and Melanie Beaton, special projects facilitator, outlined the contact municipal staff had with the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage regarding the program.

Last July, the department reached out to the municipality about having a Before and After Program provider at Inverness Education Centre and Academy for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“This is a level of programming that’s been outside the scope of what we’ve done in the past,” Beaton said. “We’d have to have conversations with partners to see if it’s feasible for us to enter into a partnership. What the department of communities, culture and heritage has been doing is finding community partners to help provide these programs.”

Staff time would be the expense to the municipality, as there wouldn’t need to be a commitment of funds.