EDMONTON—"The Minister of Children’s Services, Heather Forsyth, needs to stand up and defend Alberta’s five-point childcare agreement that she signed with the federal government" says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.
When the Minister signed the childcare agreement she subsequently put in place a five-point plan that would make significant improvements to our childcare and early learning system. The government press release that heralded the childcare plan in October stated that ‘Alberta will push the federal government to ensure this funding is sustained in future years so that Albertans continue to benefit from these comprehensive programs’.
"We call upon the Minister to keep her word and to push to sustain this important agreement", says Lynn Odynski, Chair of Public Interest Alberta.
To understand what is at stake for Alberta families and the childcare system, we need just to examine the Alberta Government’s five-point plan:
- Low and middle income families who saw an increase in the amount and access to childcare subsidies ($500/month per child for families earning less than $39,600 and reduced subsidies for families earning up to $78,000) will loose this additional support when the federal government ends the childcare agreements.
- The $100/month provided to all parents who put their children into early childhood education programs will no longer be available.
- The increase funding to improve access to specialized child care for children with disabilities is now at risk.
- The increased support for centres and family day homes that complete the provincial accreditation program is at risk.
- The increase in funding for wages and training opportunities for individuals working in accredited day care and approved family day home programs will no longer be provided, even though childcare professionals are already underpaid and there is a serious crisis in attracting people into the profession.
"We are not opposed to families receiving an increase in the child tax benefit or some other form of family allowance, although we do question why this money should go to families earning more that $100,000 per year. However, giving a $100/month to families should not be call a childcare plan," says Odynski.
"If childcare centres and day homes are unable to attract qualified staff, provide specialized care for children with disabilities, face shutting down or are too expensive for the average family to afford, then Alberta parents will have far fewer real choices for childcare in the future," says Moore-Kilgannon.
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