Long overdue changes are coming to child care in Alberta: On November 15, 2021 the Federal and Provincial governments jointly announced a historic child care agreement that will make accessible, high-quality, inclusive $10/day child care a reality in our province.

Over the years, the Women’s Centre has been a strong advocate for publicly funded high-quality child care, accessible to all families who need it. It’s been a central issue in our advocacy work because it’s so important to women. We have known for years that a lack of affordable, accessible, high-quality child care disproportionately impacts women, especially lone mothers and women living on low incomes. The costs of child care often exceed that of rent or a mortgage, and can present impossible choices for mothers looking to ensure economic security for themselves and their families. High-quality spaces can be hard to find in underserved areas, creating additional layers of inequity. Pandemic impact on child care was complex, but we know that high costs were behind parents’ decisions to stop using child care.

Improving access to affordable, high-quality child care will give women more options when it comes to education and employment, and reduce poverty, especially among lone mother-led families (3 in 10 lone mother-led families experience poverty). Publicly-funded, universally accessible quality child care is good news for everyone, and especially important as we strive to make the pandemic recovery inclusive: Parents will be able to find or keep work knowing their children are well cared for, families will have more money to spend in the local economy, and early childhood educators – who are predominantly women, often immigrant and racialized – will be supported in providing quality care and fairly compensated for the value of their work.

Today, we are celebrating this historic agreement with other advocates. We are also thinking of feminists in our community who came together over the years – decades, in fact – to demand universal early learning and child care as key for achieving gender equality. We thank them for their tireless work.

While it is important to celebrate, we are also committed to keep going – to make sure that the implementation of this Canada-Alberta agreement meets the ambitious goal, set by advocates and sector experts, to build a system of affordable, inclusive, high-quality early learning and child care that benefits children, supports women, helps families, and strengthens communities.

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What’s the plan?

The plan aims to reduce fees for parents of 0- to kindergarten-aged children by 50% in early 2022, and looks to provide an average of $10/day child care by 2026. It also will add at least 42,500 new licensed child care spaces over the next five years, ensure flexibility for families requiring drop-in or 24-hour child care, and support children with specific learning, linguistic, cultural and other needs. The plan also includes professional development and training and continued wage top-ups for early childhood educators.

For more details of the agreement, visit: https://www.alberta.ca/federal-provincial-child-care-agreement.aspx

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