EDMONTON—Childcare advocates called on the Minister of Children’s Services, Heather Forsyth, and the new Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Diane Finley to resolve the issue of the impending cuts to the childcare agreement with Alberta when they meet in Ottawa this afternoon.
“While politicians talk, Alberta families and our childcare system are forced to take a number of steps backward,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, an independent non-partisan advocacy organization. “The cut to Alberta’s five-point-plan for childcare will mean that low and middle-income families that want their children to be in quality childcare will have considerably more taken away from them than what the federal government is offering in direct payment.”
Alberta increased the number of families who were eligible for subsidies and increased the subsidy rate from $380 to $500 for children over 18 months through the previous agreement with the federal government. Families who earn under $40,000 a year are therefore now facing a cut of $120 in their subsidy rate. The cuts to Alberta’s five point plan could also mean that the $100 per month that is now available to families to put their children in early childhood education programs will be no longer offered.
Gillian Richards, Director of Canada Place Childcare Society said, “our childcare centres are already facing a real crisis trying to attract trained childcare professionals. So it is only going to get worse if the government cuts the salary increase of $2.96/hour announced in Alberta’s childcare plan. “Alberta has done a great job establishing an accreditation program, but this will be meaningless if there are not enough people willing to take the training just to earn the previous average salary of $10.37/ hour”.
Djurdja Marjanovich, a grandmother who is struggling to help her daughter find access to high quality childcare, expressed her deep frustration with the long wait lists her granddaughter is on. “Why don’t we see childcare as one of the most important services we can offer families? Why in such a wealthy country and province are people like my daughter caught between a rock and hard place when it comes to trying to get quality childcare?” says Marjanovich.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan pointed out that 71 percent of Alberta women with children between the ages of three and five are in the workforce. On average, children of working parents in Alberta need some kind of care arrangement for 22 hours a week.
“Even here in prosperous Alberta, the reality is that most families need two incomes to maintain their hold on the middle class. As a result, there is a large and demonstrated need for high-quality, accessible, affordable childcare services in this province. And that’s the problem – the need is not being met and it is only going to get worse if they scrap the agreements signed last year.”
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