The government’s new focus on parental subsidies will keep many women out of the workforce and hamper our economic recovery
EDMONTON - With September just around the corner many working families are focused on making back-to-school and child care plans. COVID-19 has made it incredibly obvious how incredibly valuable child care is to our economy in order to allow families and workers to fully participate. Yet, the UCP government continues to neglect this priority.
“Alberta families are stressed. They are facing a deep recession in the middle of global pandemic, and are trying to figure a plan for child care to get back to work,” said Siobhan Vipond, secretary treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “The UCP’s lack of leadership on child care will mean that many, many Albertans, predominantly women, will continue to be left out of the formal economy because a lack of child care.”
The UCP government recently announced the details of the new bilateral agreement with the Federal government. In the new agreement, the Federal government is providing Alberta with $45 million to assist with affordable and accessible child care. The UCP has decided to phase out the successful Early Leaning and Child Care Centres pilot and instead dedicate those funds to direct parental subsidies – which may sound promising but falls short on almost every metric.
“The UCP are making an ideological choice by opting for a market model of child care, but the evidence shows this is a failed approach” said Vipond. “This is the same market model that has failed to ensure enough child care spaces that failed to be flexible to the work schedules of parent. The same market model that has failed to ensure government subsidies support quality child care. The same market model that put no cap on how much child care costs. The same market model that creates precarious work for child care workers.”
This “new” parental subsidy is really a re-vamping of an already existing program. At the same time, the UCP are cutting the Early Learning and Child Care Centres pilot, often referred to as $25/day, and trying hard to bury the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this program.
“Subsidies are not the answer. They do not address any of the real issues facing families,” said Vipond. “By cutting the pilot program, the UCP are also doing away with any chance of Alberta expanding the program to finally achieve a fully universal child care system where every child gets a proper early childhood education and care."
A recent RBC study showed women’s participation in the economy at the lowest level in decades. Alberta already has the highest gender pay gap in the country. The UCP’s choice to neglect addressing child care in their plan for re-opening the formal economy will continue to damage our provincial economy and make a bad situation worse.
“The UCP is failing hard working Albertans in helping them recover from the effects of COVID-19. Instead of helping families make the best of a bad situation the UCP are leaving families and young children behind. What Alberta needs right now is a universal child care system that ensures spots for every family looking for quality child care”, concluded Vipond.
Director of Government Relations and Political Action, AFL