Child-care and Preschool Co-operatives

Co-operatives play an important role in providing adequate and affordable child-care and preschool services. While private firms may be inclined to enhance profitability by charging higher prices, member-owned child-care and educational facilities are more likely to place emphasis on providing more spaces at prices that members can afford. The total number of co-operatives in this sector remained remarkably consistent throughout the 1990s—around 120—although the number of active members fell by 16%. While there was a slight drop in the number of people employed by these organizations overall, the wage bill increased, suggesting better salaries, and there was a steady decline in liabilities. Assets, revenue, and member equity also rose consistently over the decade, indicating good financial health in this sector.

Unlike other types of co-operatives in the province, child-care facilities are located mainly in larger urban centres. There are approximately fifty child-care centres in Saskatchewan, employing a total of about 375 people and managing a wage bill of nearly $7 million. Healthy rises in revenue, surplus, assets, and member equity indicate ongoing successful financial management and a consistent demand for co-operative services in this area.

In contrast to child-care facilities, preschools do not receive a high level of government funding, and as a result tend to rely more heavily on donations and fund-raising drives to bolster revenues. Relative to their numbers, preschools have far fewer paid employees than child-care centres (80 as opposed to 375), which is probably a reflection of their smaller size and a greater reliance on volunteer labour. Preschools maintained a consistent presence of more than seventy organizations in Saskatchewan during the 1990s, although active membership declined by almost 13%. Assets rose by 83% over the same period, while liabilities increased even more dramatically, from $23,000 in 1989 to $182,000 at the end of the next decade. On the positive side, both revenues and member equity increased as well, and although the total number of employees dropped from 106 to 80 individuals, the wage bill rose. While this indicates improved salaries in these organizations, they still lag considerably behind those of their child-care counterparts.

Nora Russell

Further Reading

Fulton, Murray, et al. 1991. Economic Impact Analysis of the Co-operative Sector in Saskatchewan, Research Report Prepared for Saskatchewan Department of Economic Diversification and Trade; Herman, Roger and Murray Fulton. 2001. An Economic Impact Analysis of the Co-operative Sector in Saskatchewan: Update 1998; Ketilson, Lou Hammond, et al. 1998. The Social and Economic Importance of the Co-operative Sector in Saskatchewan, Research Report Prepared for Saskatchewan Department of Economic and Co-operative Development.