Despite the recent renewal of an early childhood education and child care agreement between the provincial and federal governments, local early childhood educators and the Alberta NDP say it’s not enough.
NDP Critic for Children’s Services, MLA Rakhi Pancholi says an updated funding commitment by the Alberta government should include matching federal dollars to the tune of $5.64 billion by 2025. Pancholi believes anything less will only further delay the potential for $10 a day childcare in Alberta.
“Once the bilateral agreement is signed with the federal government, half of that money is payable within 60 days,” she says.
“If we lose this investment from the federal government, many young families will be seriously looking at moving somewhere they can access affordable child care.”
Executive Director of Building Blocks Daycare Program Lindsey Campbell says while demand for childcare in Grande Prairie continues to increase, the number of spaces available and the financial support available continues to decrease.
She says families continue to struggle as a result.
“Signing projects for a year here or a year there doesn’t help us 10 years down the line, because with a change of government we don’t always see the consistency run through.”
Campbell says as the economy continues to reopen and businesses go back to pre-pandemic operations, the need for childcare has risen. She adds the number of families waiting on any openings remains high.
“We have a waitlist of about 250 to 300 kids, and that’s just my program, and I imagine these indications of waitlists are going to be prevalent in other centres in Grande Prairie,” she says.
“There are not enough [spots] for the number of children that need it.”
The Alberta NDP says $10 a day childcare would save families approximately $9,600 a year.