Federal Liberals announce $72M in child care funding for Alberta

The provincial government allocates $6.9 million.

Yesterday, the federal government announced that it’d be giving the Alberta government additional funding to help ensure that “safe and sufficient child care” is available to working parents as they return to work.

Safe Restart Agreement

The $72 million in additional funding is about 11.5% of the total $625 million announced for child care funding across the country through the Safe Restart Agreement.

It’ll be distributed in October and November at $200 per licensed/approved space. Plus, there’ll be $2,500 given to each licensed programme or approved agency each month.

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Canada–Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreement

An additional $45.4 million was allocated in July through the Canada–Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreement for the Alberta government to

  • Create new licensed child care spaces through capital and program grants
  • Provide child care subsidies to more families
  • Support evidence-based training for child care staff
  • Offset costs for child care centres associated with COVID-19 closures and reopening

The bilateral agreement was created in 2017 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-premier Rachel Notley.

Child Care Relief programme

The provincial government followed up with their own announcement, indicating that they’d be funding $6.9 million through phase 3 of the Child Care Relief programme.

According to a letter sent out by the Ministry of Children’s Services earlier this month, this provincial funding works out to about $109 per space for all providers in the following programmes:

  • Licensed day care
  • Out-of-school care
  • Group family child care
  • Innovative child care
  • Preschool

None of the CCR funding will go to early learning and child care centres, what Alberta parents might know as the $25-day programmes. The province considers them ineligible because they already received federal grant funding.

Family day homes will also receive funding through their agency, with 20% of the per-space funding going to the agency.

The $6.9 million in CCR funding is the the final phase in the $17.8 million programme.

On a related note, here are the operating expenses submitted by the Ministry of Children’s Services as part of the 2020–2021 budget:

Fiscal Plan 2020–23, p. 131

According to this table, the ministry plans to reduce child care operating expenses by $28 million this year compared to last year’s forecast.

Which isn’t that surprising, since their targets for new licensed and approved child care spaces are less ambitious this year than they were in previous years.

Consider this table, which is based on information provided on page 23 of the Ministry Business Plans: A Plan for Jobs and the Economy.

Number of available spaces105,310109,482116,714124,824131,624
% increase over previous year5.8%4.0%6.6%6.9%5.4%

For the 2020–21 fiscal year, the UCP government plans to see an increase of only 4% in the number of available childcare spaces, which is tied for the lowest growth rate since at least 2014–2015.

According to last year’s business plans document, they had forecasted a 4% increase in 2019–20 as well.

The UCP plans to reduce that increase even more, to only 3% in each of the next two years.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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