Alberta is adding 100 more Early Learn and Child Care (ELCC) Centres to the $25-a-day daycare program and on Wednesday, most of the locations were unveiled.
Alberta currently has 22 affordable care centres, and the additional 100 facilities means about 6,000 more children will receive affordable care. The expansion is expected to create between 400 and 450 new jobs for child care workers.
Premier Rachel Notley and Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee announced the details at NorQuest College’s newly opened 1000 Women Child Care Centre, which helps remove barriers for both community members and students. The downtown Edmonton daycare is one of the centres joining the $25-a-day daycare program.
The province estimates the program could help parents save an average of $425 every month.
“Childcare costs can often rival mortgage payments. We’re talking thousands of dollars a month,” Notley said.
“Some families choose to keep a parent home simply because the cost of child care keeps them from the workplace. Some families would love to keep a parent home to avoid that cost but frankly can’t afford to, so it’s not right.”
On Wednesday the locations of 82 affordable daycare centres were released. Notley said the remaining 18 facilities — some of which are not yet open — would be announced in following months after they become licensed and obtain not-for-profit status.
In most cases, existing child-care facilities are joining the pilot program. Here’s a regional breakdown of how many affordable care centres will be available in each part of the province (including existing spaces):
Northwestern Alberta: 13
Grande Prairie, Beaverlodge, Fairview, Slave Lake, Manning, Peace River, Valleyview, Clairmont
Total spaces: 824 spaces
Northeastern Alberta: 4
Fort McMurray, Anzac
Total spaces: 222 spaces
North-central Alberta: 15
Bonnyville, Barrhead, St. Paul, Edson, Hinton, Whitecourt, Lac La Biche, Cold Lake, Elk Point, Vegreville, Westlock, Athabasca, Jasper
Total spaces: 820 spaces
Edmonton region: 35
Includes Spruce Grove and St. Albert
Total spaces: 2,058 spaces
Central Alberta: 15
Camrose, Caroline, Penhold, Drayton Valley, Wetaskiwin, Lloydminster, Red Deer, Killan, Camrose, Blackfalds, Kitscoty, Olds, Provost
Total spaces: 767 spaces
Calgary area: 30
Includes High River, Black Diamond, Nanton, Canmore, Banff and Okotoks
Total spaces: 2,018 spaces
Southern Alberta: 10
Lethbridge, Pincher Creek, Medicine Hat, Taber, Vulcan
Total spaces: 567 spaces
(Scroll to the bottom of this story for full location details or click here)
Notley said some of the facilities could begin offering $25-a-day daycare as early as next month.
WATCH: Tue, Dec 19: Financial burdens for families struggling to pay for child care are being lifted. The Alberta government’s pilot of $25-a-day child care is being expanded. Jill Croteau reports.
In 2016, the province announced it was starting a $10-million, three-year pilot project that would provide child care for a maximum of $25 a day for children aged zero to six.
Wednesday’s news comes two weeks after the federal and provincial governments announced $136 million in additional funding over three years to expand ELCC Centres across Alberta. In addition to $10 million announced last year, the province said it will invest an additional $4.5 million towards the expansion.
The 100 additional centres will provide nearly five times as many affordable options as currently exist.
“Today represents a major step forward in our commitment to working toward universal, quality $25-a-day care,” Larivee said.
“This commitment is rooted in our belief that child care matters to families and we believe very much that parents should not be forced to choose between that care and their careers.”
WATCH: Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee said expanding the $25-a-day daycare pilot program is one step closer to universal child care in Alberta.
A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives looked at daycare fees across the country.
Calgary ranked fifth at an average of $1,250 a month for infant care compared with Toronto, where the cost was $1,758, Mississauga, Ont., at $1,452, Vancouver at $1,360 and Kitchener, Ont., at $1,325.
The cheapest child care was $168 a month in Montreal, as Quebec provides a significant amount of public funding.
The Alberta plan follows an NDP campaign promise in the 2015 election to create broad-based $25-a-day care.
BELOW: A list of all 122 Alberta Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Centres
— With files from Slav Kornik, Global News, and The Canadian Press