Posted on Mar 26, 2020
ALBERTA CHILD CARE SPACES FACING PERMANENT CLOSURE WITHOUT IMMEDIATE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition is calling for immediate government funding for Alberta child care centres at risk of closing permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many private and non-profit child care operators lease their space and rely solely on parent fees, government wage top-ups and subsidy payments to stay operational and cover fixed costs.
As a result of the province-wide closure of all licensed child care facilities, with the exception of child care spaces provided for essential service workers, operators are no longer collecting fees from parents nor are they being provided with subsidy payments and wage top-ups from the government, even though Children’s Services has budgeted for this monthly funding.
Without direct financial support from the UCP government, many child care operators may not be able to keep their centres operational and may not be able reopen their doors once the closure order is lifted.
In Budget 2020, the portion for subsidy and supports is $279 million and child care worker supports is about $114 million; currently, up to 18,000 child care workers qualify for a wage top-up of up to $6.62/hour.
“The UCP must immediately release funds allocated for fee subsidies and wage top up directly to the centres so operators can pay their bills, many of which are due April 1,” said Rakhi Pancholi, NDP Children’s Services Critic. “During these challenging times, Alberta families need the Minister of Children’s Services to commit to covering basic costs for childcare spaces and clearly outline how they will be able to access these supports.”
Earlier this week, British Columbia announced child care centres closed due to COVID-19 will be receiving direct financial support to ensure they are able to pay their fixed costs during the temporary closure so that they can reopen when they’re able to.
“Alberta’s child care space operators will play a vital role in supporting families, who are returning to work and will be relying on stable and affordable care for their children,” Pancholi said. “We will need to be ready to support working families as they help our economy get back on its feet.”