Edmonton - A poll conducted by Public Interest Alberta (PIA) and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) indicates that most Albertans do not support the Harper government's plans to replace the Child Care program of the previous Liberal government with $100 per month payments to parents of pre-school age children.
"Our poll shows that only 35 % of Albertans agree with the Harper child care program," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The Prime Minister should take not of this - because if barely a third of the voters in the heartland of Tory Alberta support the program, imagine the response in the rest of Canada."
"One of the most important findings of the poll was that the more people know about the Harper government's child care program, the less likely they are to support it," says McGowan. "We suggest that this means that support for the program will continue to dwindle as time goes on. It really indicates that the federal Tories should scrap it entirely."
McGowan suggests that there are many good reasons for Albertans to oppose the dismantling of the old Liberal national child care program. "First, child care is more and more a labour issue," says McGowan. "The number of children in Alberta who have both parents in the workforce continues to grow - making child care a more and more important workplace issue. In 2003, 53% of all children in Alberta under the age of five (117,000 out of 219,000) had both parents in the workforce."
"When you look strictly at the 3 to 5 year old range, however, the percentage who have both parents working climbs to 71%," says McGowan. "For Alberta parents, child care isn't a luxury - it's a necessity"
However, according to McGowan, the desperate need for high-quality, accessible and affordable child care isn't being met in Alberta. "There aren't nearly enough spaces available in quality public child care centres," notes McGowan, "and while wages for child care workers remain shockingly low, most the cost of quality child care is more than many parents can bear."
With the federal Liberal national child care program, the Alberta government received $45 million this year and was in line for $70 million each year for the following four years. The province used the new federal money to fund a five point plan that is helping to create new child care spaces in Alberta; that provides subsidies for parents and that subsidizes the wages and training of child care workers.
"If the Harper government goes ahead with its plans", warns McGowan, "the money for a national program - and the money that Alberta has been using to finance its own five point child care plan - will disappear.
"If that happens, our poll indicates that 61% of Albertans want the provincial government to step in and find the money to continue funding the five point plan that, up until now, has been funded with federal money", concludes McGowan. "Albertans recognize that the need for these programs is great. And they recognize that the interests of our children are too important to be ignored. Let's just hope that our leaders get the message."
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 915-4599