Child care is an essential service for Albertans during this crisis, and always

COVID-19 has exposed gaps and a lack of child care for Alberta workers, which is only exasperated by a public health emergency

EDMONTON - COVID-19 has shown that rather than cutting and de-regulating early learning and child care, the UCP needs to shift their focus to finally creating a universal system for Albertans.

“The UCP government’s recent announcement of child care for essential workers highlights the important role of child care during this crisis and in our society in general,” said Siobhan Vipond, secretary treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “Accessible quality child care is vital for ensuring workers are able to fully participate in our economy and in some cases to ensure core service workers can go to work.”

The importance of early learning and child care has become even more obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic as child care centres have closed in an effort to slow the spread.

“Without these child care centers open many workers, most often women, were not able to return to their jobs,” said Vipond.  “And what we have learned during this crisis is that many of these workers are pivotal to our society, including nurses, teachers, grocery workers, lab techs, critical infrastructure workers, first responders and even child care workers themselves.”

The UCP re-opening child care centers to help ensure essential workers can return or remain at work is a decision worth applauding. Yet, there are still key issues that have been left unaddressed for how essential workers will access the care they need, including high and inconsistent fees, with a lack of spaces and hours.

“It is completely unacceptable for any provincial government to ask essential workers to risk their own health while putting themselves in a position of now having to pay high child care fees to ensure they can go to work, so that the rest of us may get through this pandemic,” said Vipond.

The UCP Budget passed just weeks ago continues the de-funding of the $25/day Early Learning and Child Care Centres pilot, meaning some of these centres will have to close, and at others families will pay hundreds of dollars more per month. This combined with the recent cutting of Alberta’s child care accreditation program puts the future of early learning and child care in Alberta at risk.

“All kids deserve a fair start. The UCP needs to step up and provide quality and accessible child care for essential workers now, and coming out of this pandemic quality child care needs to be expanded so that it is accessible to all Alberta families, ensuring that all working Albertans can fully participate in our economy,” concluded Vipond.

-30-

MEDIA CONTACT:
Ramona Franson
Director of Communications
rfranson@afl.org