The Alberta Government announced a pilot program Thursday that would provide hundreds of affordable child care spaces at nearly two dozen child care facilities.

Under the program, 22 Early Learning and Child Care Centres (ELCC Centres) will receive funding to make $25-a-day child care available to Albertans.

The program will offer 1,296 licensed child care spaces, and will require 119 new child care staff to be hired – it’s also expected the program will lead to 357 Albertans being able to enter the workforce due to the availability of child care spaces.

The pilot program will cost $10 million this year.

In Edmonton, there will be 250 spaces available, or a little over one percent, under this pilot program. Demand for those spots is expected to be high.

“Anybody can apply,” Premier Rachel Notley said. “There’s no limit on who can apply, but to be clear, not everyone is going to get in.”

The province said this is a small step towards getting all daycares to the $25/day mark.

“What we would like to see is that all parents in this province have access to affordable, quality child care,” Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee said.

Notley said this pilot program will expand when the province is in a better financial situation.

Existing centres participating in the pilot program will switch to the new rate in May.

With files from Bill Fortier