Media releases | November 30, 2022

EDMONTON - To mark the National Day of Action for Child Care, Public Interest Alberta and Child Care Now Alberta joined early childhood educators, child care operators, and parents to demand that the government recognize the importance of quality in child care, and address the dire shortage of early childhood educators (ECEs). 

“Child care advocates across the country celebrated our historic win last year,” said Susan Cake, Chair of Child Care Now Alberta. “The provincial government finally listened to our advocacy for affordability in child care and signed a historic agreement with the federal government. However, the work is far from over to create a sustainable system of child care that not only addresses the cost to parents, but also the working conditions of ECEs.”

“Throughout their tenure in the legislature, the UCP have hammered the child care sector with cuts,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Combined with low wages and challenging work environments, this has meant that there is a major shortage of ECEs in the province. This is a problem that needs to be addressed now if we ever hope to build a truly high quality, affordable, and accessible system of child care. The UCP must reverse their cuts and invest in the child care workforce. The working conditions of ECEs become the care conditions for Alberta kids.” 

“As an early childhood educator myself, I know the value of highly-specialized training to work in this field,” said Jennifer Sibbald, an ECE working in Edmonton. “It’s a highly demanding job with a lot riding on it. Educators need to be provided with opportunities for further training and skills development. Children have a right to high quality care.” 

“I worked in early childhood education. However, I was forced to leave a job I loved because of the lack of career advancement opportunities,” said Eliyana Forbes. “I can’t currently see a viable career in the field. This needs to change. We need a focus on retention and a wage grid.”

“We had to cut our food program in order to properly invest in our staff. Operators and staff are facing huge challenges in terms of burnout and stress,” said Kristy Thomas, a child care operator in Edmonton. “Affordability is great for everyone, however, we also need sustainability in the workforce.”  

“We have over a hundred families on a waitlist for child care in a rural community,” said LaVonne Rideout, the Director of Community Services for the town of Pincher Creek who joined the press conference virtually.  “Parents shouldn’t feel like they won the lottery to access quality care. Funding for rural child care is a cornerstone of accessibility.”

“Parents in Alberta need to know that affordability is only one piece of the puzzle,” said Nick Craswell, a dad with a kid in after school care. “I want to know that when I drop off my kid, he will receive the best possible care from a highly trained workforce. In turn, I want to know that that workforce is being treated fairly with the dignity and respect they deserve.” 

“Today, we call on the provincial government to act now to address the urgent shortage of ECEs,” said Cake. “We need better pay, better quality, and better access. We need the UCP to step up and invest in the workforce now. We have the solutions, we just need them to listen and act.”