Posted on Jul 16, 2020
REPORT SHOWS UCP CUTS TO CHILDCARE, LACK OF PANDEMIC SUPPORT LEAVES ALBERTA FAMILIES BEHIND
EDMONTON - A nationwide survey shows UCP cuts, and lack of support for the child care system through the pandemic has ranked Alberta’s response among the worst in the country.
“This report proves that what we’ve been saying is true - there is no legitimate economic recovery plan without a plan for child care,” said Rakhi Pancholi, NDP Children’s Services Critic. “This is a complete failure by Jason Kenney and the UCP to support families and the child care sector through unprecedented times.”
The report from the Canadian Child Care Federation and the Muttart Foundation points out consecutive budget cuts to the Ministry of Children’s Services, including the cancellation of KinCare and the stay-at-home subsidy for parents whose children attend preschools, the long-established provincial accreditation process, cancellation of benefit contribution grants for service providers and elimination of the Northern Allowance for early childhood educators in the Wood Buffalo region made Alberta’s child care sector particularly vulnerable.
Fifty-six per cent of Alberta child care centres reported receiving none of their normal government funding, by far the highest rate among all provinces. This compares to nine per cent in Ontario, eight per cent in B.C., and 13 per cent nationally. It also states, 21 per cent of family child care homes in Alberta reported receiving none of their normal government funding, the second highest rate among all provinces.
Over 55 per cent of Alberta child care centres laid off all of their staff, compared to 18.5 per cent in Ontario and 19 per cent in BC. The percentage of child care centres in Alberta reporting that their financial situation was “much worse” was the highest across Canada.
The report concludes that the decisions of the UCP government to provide limited to no support for the child care sector during the pandemic has left the sector “significantly more exposed to the economic and social impacts of the pandemic than the sector in other provinces.”
“I hope this report acts as a wakeup call for Minister Rebecca Schulz,” Pancholi said. “It shows that Alberta’s support for the child care sector - which every economist in the country is saying is critical to economic recovery - was the worst in Canada. And instead of doing everything it can to rebuild and reinvest in the sector right now, the UCP is doubling down on their failed $4.7 billion corporate handout.”
The first phase of the NDP’s $25/day child care pilot program has also expired, with the second phase of 100 sites, funded primarily through federal investments under the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework Agreement, set to end March 2021.
With one in five Alberta centres closed during the reference week reporting that they are either ‘not sure’ of reopening or that they will ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ remain permanently closed, which is double and triple the numbers reported in neighbouring provinces like B.C. and Saskatchewan, to stabilize the child care sector, the NDP is calling for:
- Immediately release all accumulated funding in Budget 2020 to date for child care that has been withheld during the pandemic (approximately $33 million a month).
- Provide an immediate $2/hour wage top-ups for early childhood educators.
To address the long-term recovery of the child care sector, the NDP is also calling for”
- 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.