Twenty-one licensed non-profit daycares currently paying commercial property tax rates are applying for an exemption from Regina city council.
Colleen Schmidt, a member of the Cathedral Area Co-operative Daycare Centre, spoke on behalf of the 21 daycares.
She said altogether, the daycares pay about $120,000 in municipal property taxes per year.
“So while it doesn’t represent much of lost revenue for the city, it represents an enormous amount of money in terms of daycare dollars,” Schmidt explained.
The taxes paid work out to around $150 per child spread across all 21 of the centres, which vary in size. This doesn’t include the education portion of municipal taxes which cannot be waived by the city.
Schmidt said the money could make a big difference if it was spent directly on things like healthy food for kids or paying qualified workers.
“It’s hard to attract good people. So staff wages – paying for trained, competent workers is a big problem and certainly an area where these tax dollars could make a big difference,” she said.
She said it didn’t make sense to have non-profit childcare centres taxed at the same commercial rate as big businesses.
Considering the short supply of licensed childcare spaces, Schmidt said introducing a property tax exemption could actually be a tool for the city to promote growth in the strategic service area.
Currently, daycare centres operating in schools aren’t taxed at all. Schmidt said licensed facilities that operate the same way ought to be treated the same for tax purposes.
“Of the 60 daycares in the city, 30 are already in tax-exempt facilities, so we’re really just going to bring the last 50 per cent of the daycares into the same tax category,” Scmidt said.
The conversation around taxing daycare centres actually began in Regina in 2016 after five centres were changed from the residential to commercial property tax categories after a reassessment.
Those five centres unsuccessfully appealed to the city to change the particular assessments.
Scmidt said during that time, the daycare community began to talk and started to speak out about the tax issue. Since the province regulates all daycares, the group asked the provincial government to do something to even out the tax rate but were referred back to the municipal level.
In the past, Regina city council has maintained the stance that the tax issue for daycares is under provincial jurisdiction. This new application will be dealt with by city council in the coming months.