Alberta and Ottawa have extended an agreement meant to help working parents with child care.
Under the deal, Ottawa is committing over $290-million over four years for affordable and inclusive programming.
Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz says child care is vital to the province’s economic recovery.
“Albertans expect high-quality, inclusive, affordable and accessible child care. We’re investing in a child care strategy that meets the diverse needs of Alberta parents, especially working moms, while supporting high-quality programs in attracting and retaining quality early childhood educators.”
The agreement will also mean an increase in the provincial subsidy program to $45 million from $29 million in the 2020-2021 deal.
Judy White, the director of operations at Thornhill Childcare Society, calls it a step in the right direction, but wants to see an increase in the ceiling for maximum income eligibility.
The Calgary non-profit society works to provide developmentally appropriate programs that are accessible to all families.
She says middle class families are struggling to get back on their feet, particularly people who are just getting back into the workforce.
“That is so difficult. For a family of an infant to come up with — with our organization it’s $1,100, other organizations it’s as high as $1,700– to come up with that for one child when you don’t qualify for subsidy is so difficult when you’ve just been laid off from your job for four months or longer. “
A one-time funding commitment of $56 million has also been included to build up the province’s early childhood workforce following closures, quarantines and staffing changes since the pandemic
began in March 2020.
That money will be used for training, professional development and resources to enhance existing initiatives as well as retention strategies.
“Child care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, in a news release. “High-quality early learning experiences are essential to the intellectual, emotional and physical development of our children.”
The federal government has promised up to $30 billion over the next five years to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system, with the goal of bringing the cost down to $10 a day.
The amounts per child, based on income, have yet to be announced in Alberta.