End of child care pilot program will mean fee hikes, fewer affordable spaces, and loss of progress towards a universal child care system for Albertans
EDMONTON - The end of this month will mark the end of the first phase of the $25 per day Early Learning and Child Care Centres, meaning the original 22 centres that were part of the pilot program in Alberta lose their funding for extra supports, ending the cap on fees. The remaining 100 centres are currently scheduled to be funded until next year.
“Alberta workers are facing an urgent need for support when it comes to child care,” said Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer Siobhan Vipond. “Yet, the Kenney government continues to show that child care is not a priority for them, that workers who depend on child care centres are not a priority for them, and that the child care workers in these centres are not a priority for them.”
Child care is crucial for Alberta’s economic recovery. It allows essential workers to continue to go to work, and allows others to re-enter the economy as more and more industries and businesses are able to re-open. According to The Conference Board of Canada, every $1 spent expanding early childhood education for children under 5 years of age would yield close to $6 in economic benefits.
“Child care is pivotal for Alberta families and workers to be able to participate in our economy and society. Without these affordable child care centres open many workers, most often women, will not be able to return to their jobs,” said Vipond. “As we turn to work towards rebuilding our formal economy, child care is one of the most important programs for governments to invest in."
Child care fees in Alberta are the second highest expense for families after housing. Edmonton and Calgary families can expect to pay upwards of $1,500 a month per child depending on the age of their children. These high costs often force families to make difficult decisions, and at times, mean that women put their careers on hold and stay home to save money. It has been estimated that it takes women who have children 12 years to reach the same income level as women who do not have children.
“Not only did the $25/day program contribute to the economy, but it also helped ensure financial security for families across Alberta – including those who work in child care,” said Vipond. “The program also provided important professional development and wage top-ups to ensure well-trained child care workers were fairly compensated and if needed, could also afford their own child care.”
“A universal system of affordable child care should be available to all families in Alberta. Investing in child care should be a priority for the Kenney government as we work on building back up our formal economy,” concluded Vipond.
Director of Communications, AFL