Alberta parents will soon have access to more subsidized licensed private child-care spaces.
The province signed on to the federal Liberal government’s $10-a-day child-care program in November 2021. On Tuesday, the two governments agreed to the next phase of their funding agreement.
Alberta Children’s Services Minister Mickey Amery was joined by federal colleagues in announcing that 1,600 private spaces will be eligible for funding almost immediately, with up to 2,000 more as soon as licensing requirements are completed.
He said an additional 22,500 private child-care spaces may become eligible for funding support over the next three years.
“Private operators, who make up more than 60 per cent of our mixed market here in this province, play a valuable role in the sector,” said Amery.
“We want a system that welcomes and embraces their full participation.”
The province said the same cost framework will apply to all private and non-profit operators. Previously, only new non-profit spaces were eligible for the funding supports.
Amery said based on income thresholds, parents with a child in full-time care will save between $450 and $635 a month.
Alberta is receiving $3.8 billion in federal funding over five years with the goal of reducing day care fees to $10 a day by 2026.
Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz, who negotiated the original agreement, said there are two major advantages to making child care more affordable.
“Access to licensed, high quality child care is absolutely necessary helping children learn, grow and develop to their full potential, while giving parents the freedom and the choice to enter or re-enter post-secondary or the workforce, especially at a time when the cost of living and affordability is top of mind for all Canadians, especially here in Alberta,” Schulz said.
Cynthia Nerling, president of the Alberta Association of Child Care Operators, called the announcement a milestone moment and important for families looking for affordable options.
“Private child-care operators provide the majority of child care in Alberta, and we take pride in the quality of our work and the positive impact it has on Alberta families,” Nerling said.
“Parents lean on us so they can focus on their jobs, businesses or their studies. Including private child-care operators in the child-care agreement is vital to reducing child-care fees in Alberta.”
Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould said allowing private child-care operators to be eligible was always part of the plan.
“Any existing licensed provider or space, either for-profit, not-for-profit, private, public, was grandfathered into the agreement. So today’s announcement isn’t about existing licensed spaces. It’s really about expansion of new spaces to meet those space expansion numbers,” Gould said.
Alberta’s Opposition applauded the announcement but said the United Conservative Party government should have acted sooner.
“The UCP’s foot-dragging on this issue has caused a lot of stress and anxiety for Alberta child-care operators and parents,” said Children’s Services critic Rakhi Pancholi.
“The UCP’s implementation has been incompetent, confused and poorly communicated to child-care operators and educators.”