Posted on May 7, 2021


EDMONTON – Alberta’s NDP is calling on the UCP to provide Early Learning and Child Care programs immediate support that will ensure programs don’t shut down because of the third wave of the pandemic, as Jason Kenney let happen to schools.

Earlier this week parents were left scrambling to come up with arrangements when Jason Kenney announced that schools would be moving to online learning effective today. Schools will remain closed for at least the next three weeks. 

“Many parents with young children are worried that their child care programs could suffer the same fate as schools the longer this government continues to sit idle on enforcement and supports,” said NDP Critic for Children’s Services Rakhi Pancholi. “We didn’t have to be here.”

Before the government announcement, schools named staffing issues and shortages as the driving issue of school closures. 

“Those realities are no different in early learning and child care program. For so many families, not having access to child care will mean a parent who can’t go to work,” said Pancholi. “We are well into the third wave and we must protect our child care programs from closure.”

In addition to previous calls on the government for paid sick leave to ensure workers are able to stay home, the NDP Official Opposition are calling on Jason Kenney and the UCP for immediate support for child care programs to prevent broad closures during the third wave of COVID-19. Those supports include:

  • Establish an emergency fund for hiring temporary staff to continue operations should any workers need to isolate.
  • Re-deploy rapid testing teams currently in place for K-12 schools to child are programs for the next three weeks so any positive cases can be identified quickly.
  • Provide early learning and child care programs funds to purchase additional PPE, including HEPA filters to reduce airborne transmission. 

Kari Morris, Director for The Meadows Early Learning and Child Care spoke to how exhausted and stressed her staff and families are around the rising COVID-19 cases in the province. 

“It has been absolutely exhausting trying to balance all of the added COVID-19 cases and close contacts working diligently with Alberta Health Services on top of the day-to-day operations. There has been no support for the sector both financially and emotionally.” said Morris. 

“We cannot afford for the Kenney government to make the same mistakes they did in our schools,” said Pancholi. “We have the highest case counts in the country, and the UCP must act now to protect children, staff, and keep working parents at work to support our fragile economy.”

Children aged 9 and under make up 11.7 per cent of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta, and do not qualify for any vaccine approved for use in Canada.