The Alberta government is reupping its commitment to affordable daycare.
In her latest mandate letter, Premier Danielle Smith directed Children and Family Services Minister Searle Turton to make $10-a-day daycare happen.
Her letter tells Turton to start “Working with the federal government and child care providers to implement $10-per-day daycare by 2026 that promotes and incentivizes new child care spaces for both private and non-profit operators.”
In 2021, the federal and provincial governments came to an agreement to bring $10-a-day daycare to Alberta.
The plan started providing affordability grants for child care operators to lower fees for all parents, and expanded the child care subsidies.
Turton spent Friday touring daycare facilities to get input from care providers and parents.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be done until we actually hit our goal of $10-a-day daycare, but I’m pretty excited,” Turton told Global News in an interview.
“Families want to know that the daycares that they take their kids to are safe, accessible, inclusive, and I’m going to do my best to reach those targets as part of the federal agreement.”
Alberta currently averages $25-a-day daycare, and Turton believes that will go down by early next year.
“We’re on track to hit the $15-a-day daycare point by the spring of 2024, and we’re definitely on track to hit our $10-a-day daycare by 2026,” he explained.
“$10-a-day daycare is intrinsically important in so many families. It makes the difference, if a mom will actually come to work or not.”
One of the daycares he visited Friday was the YMCA Cantiro Child Care in Spruce Grove. It’s where Annalise Yuzda, vice president of child care at YMCA of Northern Alberta, works.
She tells Global News she’s hopeful Turton and the United Conservative Party government can expand affordable daycare.
“I think we can get there, we have a committed government that will want us to get there, and it’s life changing for children and families.”
She says every family deserves affordable child care and, while the $10-a-day program is great, she does note some challenges around funding.
She’d like to see the province fund centres based on that centre’s program and not a rate based on provincial averages.
“Because childcare in Fort McMurray is much more expensive than let’s say childcare in Edmonton,” she explained.
“So instead of painting everyone with one brush, it would be nice to individualize and supply said funds to those programs to what it’ll actually cost to run their centre.”
Around $3 billion in public dollars are being used to lower child care fees for Albertans.