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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

Ottawa and Alberta agree on $10-a-day child care; $3.8-billion deal to help create 42,500 new spaces

Monday, November 15, 2021 @ 3:21 PM | By Cristin Schmitz

The federal government has reached a deal with the Alberta government to provide $10‑a‑day child care spaces (on average) for children under six years old in the province.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney jointly announced in Edmonton Nov. 15 their governments’ agreement, which includes creating 42,500 new regulated early learning and child care spaces by the end of March 2026, according to a press release from the prime minister’s office.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

“Today’s agreement with Alberta is an important step forward to delivering on our Canada-wide early learning and childcare system, which will create jobs, grow the middle class, and give our kids the best start in life,” Trudeau said in the statement.

Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s Minister of Children’s Services, called it “a good day for parents and families in Alberta.”

“We’ve listened to families, childcare operators, and business leaders to develop an agreement that gives us flexibility to truly meet the needs of, and make life a little easier for, even more families in Alberta,” Schulz said in the same statement.

Ontario has yet to announce a comparable agreement with Ottawa, but so far the federal government has reached similar deals with the governments of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. (The government of Canada has also made a different agreement with Quebec — which already has lower-cost day care — to strengthen early learning and child care in that province.)

Ottawa said almost $3.8 billion in federal funding over the next five years will lead to a 50-per-cent reduction in average fees for children under the age of six in regulated child care by the end of 2022.

The money will fund critical services and “grow a strong and skilled workforce of early childhood educators, including through greater opportunities for professional development,” the federal government said. “The agreement will also support a childcare system that is fully inclusive of children with disabilities and children needing enhanced or individual supports, and ensures all families have equitable access to high-quality, affordable childcare.”

The federal government noted the deal also includes “a clear commitment to continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous organizations in Alberta to develop an approach that will support Indigenous children in the province in having access to culturally-appropriate, quality, and affordable childcare.”

Ottawa said the 42,500 new regulated spaces in Alberta will be among licensed not-for-profit, public and family-based child care providers.

In addition to the federal contribution, Alberta currently invests nearly $400 million in early learning and child care annually, the press release says.

Ottawa said that in recognition of Alberta’s mixed market system for child care, the federal and provincial governments will create a “Canada-Alberta Implementation Committee” to develop and propose “an expansion plan and cost-control framework to support the growth of additional regulated spaces by licensed providers.”

The new joint committee, in which Ottawa will be represented by the Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care, will also monitor progress on child care commitments, in consultation with stakeholders.

The federal government says its new investments to build a high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care system across Canada will total up to $30 billion over five years, and combined with previous investments announced since 2015, $9.2 billion every year, permanently.

The federal government says that investments in early learning and child care it made prior to the pandemic helped to create more than 40,000 more affordable child care spaces across the country, including more than 2,500 in Alberta. Ottawa says that studies show that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, the broader economy receives between $1.50 and $2.80 in return.

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