Alberta and the federal government have reached a deal to support an average of $10-a-day child care and create 42,500 new regulated early learning and child care spaces by the end of March 2026.
With almost $3.8 billion in federal funding over the next five years, Alberta will also see a 50 per cent reduction in average parent fees for children under the age of six in regulated child care by the end of 2022.
The new regulated spaces in Alberta will be among licensed not-for-profit, public, and family-based child care providers.
The agreement was announced Monday in Edmonton by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Trudeau and Kenney spoke at a news conference with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould and Alberta Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz.
Trudeau said the agreement means that within five years, child care at an average $10 per day will be a reality in Edmonton.
“This is big news for families and it’s yet another example of how governments work together to deliver in real tangible ways for people,” Trudeau said.
Kenney said the announcement comes on a good day for Alberta families because affordable child care “makes a big difference for working parents.”
The premier said the deal means that $3.8 billion in taxes paid by Albertans to Ottawa will come back to the province under the program.
“The province has secured a deal that allows Alberta parents to have the type of child care that works best for them, which has been a key element of any deal that this government would sign,” Kenney said.
“This means that all types of licensed child care for kids aged up to kindergarten, like preschools, daycare and licensed family day homes, will now be supported through this deal with the federal government.”
Ottawa announced $30 billion over five years and $8.3 billion ongoing with the aim to create a quality and affordable child-care system as part of this year’s budget, unveiled last April.
‘A game changer’
The federal budget stipulates any new plan must meet three criteria:
- Funds must go “primarily” to non-profit early learning centres.
- Funds must pay for the training of early childhood educators.
- The money must be spent to halve average child-care fees by the end of 2022 and reduce child-care costs to an average of $10 per day by 2026.
While she was not aware of details of the agreement ahead of Monday’s news conference, Nicki Dublenko, chair of the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta, said $10-a-day child care would be transformative.
“That in itself is a game-changer because [there are] people, typically women, that want to work, but they just can’t afford it, especially with multiple children. All of their pay is going towards child care,” Dublenko said.
“They talk about child care as being like mortgage payments that families have until their children get access to school.”
Child care in crisis, Dublenko says
Families can pay upward of $1,200 a month per child in some areas of the province, especially in parts of northern Alberta, Dublenko said.
Dublenko said the Ottawa deal could not have come soon enough, as child care in the province has been “in a state of crisis” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some programs are still really suffering from low enrolment and the high costs from the pandemic,” she said. “Families are really needing the support, and child-care programs are really needing the support to stay functioning.”
The Alberta government launched negotiations with Ottawa in July, before the federal election was called.
In August, Kenney was demanding the federal government give the province unconditional funding for early learning and child care similar to what Quebec has negotiated.
The government representatives at the news conference will also be joined by Shannon Doram, president and CEO of the YMCA Calgary, and Heather Gomme, owner and director of It’s a Child’s World Family Day Home Agency.
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