Feds to give Alta. child care centres another $72M
EDMONTON -- Alberta child care centres, the majority of whom the province estimates are operating at about half capacity with increased guidelines and costs, will together receive another $72 million from Ottawa.
“This is a record amount,” Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of families, children and social development, said. In July, his department also announced $45 million for Alberta’s child care sector through an agreement between Ottawa and the province.
“We can all agree that extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary solutions.”
This month, operators in the province were supposed to receive $109 per licensed space as part of a funding commitment from the province earlier in the year.
With the federal dollars, Alberta’s minister of children’s services said the subsidy would increase to $200 a month and facilities would receive $2,500 in October and November.
“While 92 per cent of child care centres, pre-schools, out-of-care schools and day homes are open in Alberta, we’re at just over half-capacity. So that makes it really difficult for child care centres to meet – I mean, to pay their bills, right? – without increasing parent fees,” she commented.
“What they really wanted to see was that funding phased in – it was consistent.”
Half capacity is true for at least one facility CTV News Edmonton spoke to.
"Capacity at 80, and we are not even at 40," Amelyn Harke at the Canada Place Childcare Society said.
"The costs skyrocketed, so that has been challenging for us."
She said the federal funding would help ensure the care space stays open.
According to Schulz, some low and middle-income families could be eligible for $13-a-day care with the grants.
However, she said her ministry continues to gather feedback on longer-term plans.
“Obviously, as we’ve learned over the last six months, we need to be prudent, that we can’t anticipate necessarily where this pandemic is going to go, so we want to be in a position where we’re able to respond both to the guidelines put forward by the chief medial officer of health and the specific needs of child care centres across this province and Alberta parents.”
But that is a weakness in the government's approach, said the NDP's children's services critic.
"Today's announcement from the provincial government provides no long-term solution to the child care crisis," Rakhi Pancholi told CTV News Edmonton.
In total, the federal government is spending an additional $625 million on child care throughout Canada as part of the safe restart plan.
In July, the $45 million was announced as part of a $400-million commitment by the federal government to provincial and territorial child care programming.
At the time, federal minister Ahmed Hussen hinted the Liberals might do more later in the year.
The $45 million was divvied up as $29 million to boost day care subsidies, $9.7 million to create the Inclusive Child Care Program supporting disability needs and adding as many as 385 child care spaces throughout the province, and $4.7 million to make an early-learning curriculum available to all operators in the province.