Media releases | July 05, 2005

EDMONTON—"Finally! Families and community advocates are celebrating today the signing of a federal-provincial early childhood education and childcare agreement," says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "For too long, decades in fact, the provincial and federal governments have been squabbling over jurisdiction rather than getting down to building a quality childcare system."Public Interest Alberta has coordinated a broad-based public campaign for childcare since February, 2005 when Minister Forsyth talked publicly about not signing onto a national childcare deal."While we are happy they have signed the deal and that it is based on the principles of QUAD - Quality, Universally Inclusive, Accessible and Developmental - we are concerned about the political will to achieve an accessible and affordable quality childcare system," states Moore-Kilgannon.Over the past 13 years, Alberta has not made childcare a priority and Alberta families and the public interest has suffered with increasing costs and waiting lists and many parents have had no choice but to put their children into unregulated care. A recently released study demonstrates that Alberta has lower spending in this year's budget than in 1992. Alberta is the only province in Canada to see the number of regulated childcare spaces decline to where there are only enough regulated spaces for 9.2% of all children under the age of 6."Unfortunately, this agreement says absolutely nothing about how they are going to make the system more affordable to parents. Subsidies do not mean that low income families can afford to put their children in regulated facilities because the amount that families have to pay above the subsidy can stay the same or go up. If we are not careful in how the program is developed then it may only increase the profit margin of the for-profit centres."The other concern is that this agreement also explicitly supports for-profit childcare. Other provinces have looked at the evidence and chose to commit to building a not-for profit system. The question remains how Alberta will make sure the funds do not just go into subsidizing the profit lines of these businesses."Parents do want choice! But to get choice they need to have more options that are based on getting the type of care their children need," concludes Moore-Kilgannon.- 30 -