The federal election means it will be at least the end of September before Alberta families find out if the province and federal government are able to sign a deal on affordable child care.
In the 2021 budget, the federal Liberals committed to funding a Canada-wide child care system which would see parents pay an average of $10 per day for children under the age of six. The plan requires individual agreements with all Canada’s provinces and territories.
The Liberals were able to strike deals with eight jurisdictions, but Alberta was unable to complete negotiations before the election writ was dropped on Sunday.
“We worked very hard, right up until Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, to see if we could come together on an agreement,” said Alberta’s Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz, who believes both sides are committed to signing a deal if the Liberals are re-elected in September.
“There was the political will to move this forward.”
Schulz says the proposal put forward by the UCP government would have created thousands of new spaces and, on average, cut fees in half within two years, with subsidies for families making less than $200,000 per year, and then see fees reduced to $10 per day in five years for the vast majority of low and middle income families.
“We know that Alberta parents and families want to see these dollars come back to Alberta to be invested in child care. We know Alberta parents see this as a huge driver for economic recovery.”
The NDP doesn’t believe the UCP was negotiating in good faith.
“Jason Kenney has failed in leadership on this issue,” said Rakhi Pancholi, who points out both British Columbia and Saskatchewan were able to reach agreements.
“We are surrounded by provinces that are well on their way now to $10 per day child care — this actually puts Alberta families at a disadvantage.
“We don’t have the opportunity now to attract families, to encourage them to stay here.”
Along with British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the governments of Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Nova Scotia and Yukon Territory have also signed deals with Ottawa, totaling $12.5 billion.