Posted on Jul 2, 2020
NDP PROPOSES CHILD CARE RECOVERY PLAN TO STIMULATE ECONOMY, SUPPORT ALBERTA FAMILIES
EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP Opposition released a child care strategy as a vital component of Alberta's economic recovery.
On June 30, the first phase of the previous NDP government’s $25/day child care pilot program ended.
“There’s no credible economic recovery plan without a plan for child care,” said Rakhi Pancholi, NDP Children’s Services Critic. “Without a plan for child care, Jason Kenney is setting Alberta up for failure. Women in particular, have been hit hardest with job losses and unpaid care-giving during the pandemic. Albertans cannot get back to work without affordable, accessible, and quality child care.”
Economists in Canada and elsewhere are calling for childcare to be at the forefront of economic recovery. Studies show the benefits of universal child care and early childhood education far outweigh the costs. For every $1 invested in childcare, studies show that Alberta would get a minimum $2 return.
Alberta’s NDP Opposition is proposing a child care strategy in order to support Albertans to get back to work and ensure a quality, accessible and affordable early learning and child care system. The strategy includes:
- The implementation of a universal $25/day affordable child care program for non-profit, private centres and family day-homes, guided by an Early Learning and Child Care Task Force.
- The establishment of an Early Learning and Child Care Task Force to advise on the following:
- A phased-in implementation plan for universal $25/day child care.
- The recruitment, training, and retention of the early childhood education workforce.
- Accessibility and inclusivity in child care.
- The development of an online portal to connect parents with child care providers in their communities and track child care needs.
“Our plan is both good for the economy, and good for families,” Pancholi said. “Ensuring affordable, accessible child care can help Alberta create good new jobs, invest in early childhood education and help Albertans get back to the jobs they have.”
Jasper business owner Ashely Kliewer said she and her husband purchased a business three years ago and without the ELCC program would have had to juggle child care between the two of them. She said it was because they had access to high quality, reliable and affordable childcare, they were able to focus on building their business, which led to more than doubling sales and growing their business.
UCP government cuts have put additional stress on existing child care operators already hit hard by the closure of child care programs during the pandemic leading many to fear for the future of their businesses. To address this and stabilize the sector, Alberta’s NDP Caucus is also calling on the UCP Minister of Children’s Services to:
- Immediately release all accumulated funding in Budget 2020 to date for child care that has been withheld during the pandemic (approximately $25 million a month).
- Provide an immediate $2/hour wage top-ups for early childhood educators.
For Alka Kalia, owner of Children’s Academy Daycare Centre, she needs more support from the UCP government to keep her business going.
“I started my business seven years ago with my mother,” Kalia said. “The government’s commercial eviction ban was supposed to help tenants but I’m falling between the cracks. Parents are asking me if I’m opening in July because this process has been so stressful - I haven’t been able to tell them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to reopen at all. Minister Schulz needs to stop calling us for town hall meetings if she has nothing to actually tell us.”
“This pandemic has further highlighted the need for a high quality, affordable and accessible system for early learning and child care,” said a spokesperson for The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta. “We believe that a well-qualified, well-remunerated and well-supported workforce is the heart of a high-quality early learning and child care system. Workforce-related system components include increased wages, higher educational standards, better working conditions and ongoing professional learning for Alberta’s early childhood educators.”