As news broke that child care centres in Fort McMurray are facing an uncertain future as they were forced to close down operations to ensure the health and safety of their staff and the children they serve, Public Interest Alberta’s Executive Director Bradley Lafortune issued the following statement:
“Lack of access to affordable, accessible, and high-quality child care means that already-struggling working families face even tougher challenges such as being forced to choose between child care and safe housing, healthy food, and other basic needs. In Fort McMurray and our northern communities, these challenges are even more pronounced, leaving children without access to care, mothers unable to return to work, and child care centres at risk of closing permanently.
Public Interest Alberta calls on the UCP to immediately rectify this growing crisis in our northern communities by investing directly in emergency operational funding, providing PPE for all workers, and rapid testing for all facilities. The provincial government must invest in these immediate measures now to keep these critical centres from being shuttered permanently.
Across the province, the child care sector continues to struggle with pandemic-related issues like full or partial closures or being forced to lay off staff. The Kenney government, however, has failed children and families by maintaining the significant cuts they’ve made to the child care sector over the past two years. In addition to ending massively successful pilots like the $25-a-day child care program, the Kenney government has cut grants like the Benefit Contribution Grant and the Staff Attraction Incentive which help operators hire and retain highly-trained staff. The result is that the largely woman-dominated profession and the families who rely on child care are worse off than before. These issues are especially pronounced in the northern parts of our province, where early childhood educators lost the northern allowance which was about $1000 a month for workers.”