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Daycare operators in Alberta are warning parents to brace for a big jump in fees in order for the centres to meet new provincial regulations.
In April 2007, the Alberta government passed Bill 4, a law to raise standards in childcare. It still needs to be proclaimed, which is expected this spring.
The new regulations include lowering the ratio of children to staff, which will translate into higher costs for daycare owners, according to Leon Comer, who owns Star Bright Daycare in Edmonton's west end.
The daycare already charges $800 per month for babies, but Comer said he fears he may be forced to bump that up to $900.
"The ratios change and we have to employ additional staff. That's if we could get them," said Comer. "And even if we could get them, in my case in this daycare, every parent would face a $100 a month increase."
After a first round of consultations with parents and childcare operators, the province dropped a proposal to change how meals and snacks are provided and modified staff certification requirements.
A second round of public consultations is scheduled to end Feb. 4 and some regulations in the Child Care Licensing Act have not yet been finalized despite being passed in the legislature.
The Opposition wants the government to rethink its plans.
"The work with this consultation is so important because the idea of it is to come up with the regulations to ensure this quality, the standard throughout the province," said Weslyn Mather, Liberal critic for Children's Services.
"What's being proposed are regulations that do not do that, that if anything will diminish the number of spaces in Alberta for childcare and it's not doing anything to encourage people to go into that field."