Saskatchewan government waiting on feds’ response to $10-a-day child care plan: Premier

Click to play video: 'Trudeau government, N.S., announce $10-per-day childcare by 2026.'
Trudeau government, N.S., announce $10-per-day childcare by 2026.
WATCH: Nova Scotia is on track to make child care more affordable. A joint announcement between the provincial and federal governments is promising that in five years, child care in the province will cost an average of $10 a day. Alicia Draus reports. – Jul 13, 2021

Premier Scott Moe told reporters earlier this week that the provincial government has submitted their proposed plan for $10-a-day child care and is waiting for the federal government’s response.

Similar plans have been agreed upon with the federal government in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

The federal government’s 2021 budget introduced the plan to have $10 per day childcare across the country by 2026.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau government, N.S., announce $10-per-day childcare by 2026.'
Trudeau government, N.S., announce $10-per-day childcare by 2026.

Moe did not offer details about Saskatchewan’s plan but said it “has the maximum benefit for young Saskatchewan families.”

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“It’s sitting on the federal ministers’ desk and we hope for approval of that plan,” Moe said.

In an emailed statement, Saskatchewan Education Minister Dustin Duncan said a proposal had been submitted to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister Ahmed Hussen.

“(The proposal) meets all of the federal government’s objectives while providing flexibility and choice for Saskatchewan families,” Duncan stated.

At a media availability on Friday, the Saskatchewan NDP called on the government to take action and implement lower fees and more spaces at childcare centres.

According to a 2019 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Saskatchewan ranks the lowest for overall quality measures and rates of access to regulated childcare out of all other provinces.

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The report added that licensed child care in the province can only accommodate 18 per cent of children 5 and under, whereas 70 per cent of Saskatchewan mothers of children 5 and under go to work.

“This means that most children are left in the care of extended family members or in unlicensed family child care homes, where they do not benefit from provincial funding or any form of assistance that may accompany regular oversight,” the report stated.

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The NDP wants the government to also address recruiting and retaining child care staff and wages of staff.

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Will Alberta bring in $10/day daycare?

“We know that within the first year we lose over half of those (early childhood educators) largely because they find that they cannot afford child care for themselves,” MLA Carla Beck said. “The wages are so low that there is constant turnover. I know some centres turnover more than half their staff every year.”

Child Care Now Coalition Saskatchewan spokesperson Nicole Ferguson told reporters about 3,800 early childhood educators are currently working in childcare centres, not including those working in child care homes.

Ferguson said the north and rural part of Saskatchewan are short on spaces. There is also a shortage of space for school-aged children, and for parents who work outside typical office hours such as police officers, nurses, doctors, and hospitality workers.

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Two Saskatoon parents also spoke out on Friday about what their childcare experience has been like.

Parkridge mom Beverly Fullerton said she’s been on a wait list for four years and counting for two spots at an early learning centre.

“If there’s a space open in Evergreen, the reality for me to get two little boys from Parkridge to Evergreen and get to work on time, that’s adding another 45 minutes to my morning schedule where we already wake up at 6 a.m.,” Fullerton said.

“Is that a priority so I have child care? Absolutely, but then it just adds more barriers for me.”

Fullerton said at an hourly wage of $20 per hour, she makes too much money to apply for child care subsidy.

“Do I take a job cut and pay cut to access these funds or do I just keep going and hope I can manage each month?

According to the government of Saskatchewan, maximum subsidies are provided to families with monthly incomes below $1,640 if they have one child under 18.

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The threshold is increased by $100 for each additional child under 18.

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B.C. and the federal government reach a deal on child care funding

If parents make more money that the income thresholds listed, a family may still be able to qualify for a reduced subsidy.

Fellow Saskatoon mom Deanna Doherty said her daughters’ child care journey will soon be over and she and her husband have talked about what they will do with the extra money.

“We have had the privilege of having our girls in high quality daycare centres their whole lives. This privilege did not come without sacrifice for our family, though. There were years that we were not sure how we were going to pay all of our bills or we picked and chose what was most important,” Doherty said.

When Doherty was on maternity leave with her second child, she had to keep her eldest in daycare in order to maintain the spots.

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“Many families cannot afford child care and they have to leave careers they love in order to be at home with their families, and that’s also great. But the freedom to have choice is what matters for all parents,” Doherty said.

Global News reached out to the federal government asking if they had received Saskatchewan’s proposal and when they planned to respond to it, but a statement was not provided before deadline.

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