Posted on Apr 1, 2021
UCP CANCELS $25/DAY CHILD CARE PILOT, LEAVES THOUSANDS OF PARENTS STRANDED
EDMONTON – Today marks the UCP’s cancellation of the $25/day early learning and childcare program, leaving many Alberta families worried about finding access to affordable, quality early learning and child care.
“Alberta families woke up to the reality that life will be harder for them than it was yesterday.” said NDP Critic for Children’s Services Rakhi Pancholi. “The UCP government has now ended the $25/day early learning and childcare program which means all Alberta families will struggle more to afford, find, or access quality early learning and childcare.”
The $25/day childcare pilot program was initiated in 2017 under the NDP. It served 7,500 children and created 1,740 new childcare spaces in rural and urban Alberta. It was a pilot program for universal childcare in the province, and was cancelled by the UCP government when they were elected in 2019.
“The program was overwhelmingly positively received by families and educators and evaluated by third-party evaluators. We must recognize that all children deserve access to quality early learning and that this pilot provided economic benefits by increasing workforce participation, job creation and GDP growth that comes from ensuring all families have access to affordable child care.” said Pancholi.
The UCP also eliminated quality standards for childcare, cut critical grants and supports to programs and parents, and has the lowest level of supports to the childcare sector during the pandemic in the country. This has resulted in child care fees increasing for all families in Alberta. Even the increase in childcare subsidies announced last year by the UCP have already been eclipsed by a greater increase in average childcare fees in the last year.
“The end of the $25/day pilot program marks the end of the first substantial progress in Alberta towards increasing women’s participation in the workforce and children’s access to quality early learning. Alberta lags behind other provinces and countries in terms of early learning and access to childcare. The damage that has been done by the UCP’s actions will have long term implications for our economic recovery,” said Pancholi.
The level of women’s unemployment in Alberta has reached levels the province hasn’t seen since 1984, and the province has seen a significant drop in children’s enrollment in early childhood education programs.