Premier Rachel Notley unveiled a new three-year pilot project Thursday that will see 22 early learning and child care centres open across the province at a cost of just $25 a day.
“We want to help make life better for Alberta families,” Notley said, speaking at the Intercultural Child and Family Centre in Edmonton.
“For far too many of Alberta’s growing families, affordable child-care is one of their biggest concerns. … Whether or not they can afford child care shouldn’t be top on the list of reasons why they can’t start a family,” she said.
The premier said new mothers who are accepting new job opportunities, shouldn’t have to worry about finding affordable child-care for their children.
“When a new mom gets a job offer that starts her off on a career path that she’s chosen, she shouldn’t have to question whether she can afford to accept a lower starting wage because daycare costs are too high,” she added.
Of the 22 locations, five will be located in Calgary and Edmonton, with the others spread out across the province. It will create 1,296 affordable child-care spaces – 714 of which will be new. Children aged zero to six are eligible.
“We will watch closely as [the centres] evolve and we will apply what we learn towards our commitment of making affordable child care more available,” Notley said.
Danielle Larivee, minister of children’s services, said that as a mother she understands the importance for parents of finding the right child care centre.
“When we say goodbye – and I love you – to our little ones each morning, we expect that they should be given the nurturing support they need not only to grow but to thrive,” she said.
“In Canada, and especially here in Alberta, all too often it’s still hard for parents to find affordable, high-quality child-care. And that should not be the case in a place that has so many opportunities for so many.”
The province said 119 new child-care staff would be hired to support the program. To qualify, centres had to submit a grant proposal. That deadline passed on Jan. 20.
It added that some of the early learning and child-care centres with existing child-care programs are expected to begin operations as early as May 1. More centres will open throughout the summer.
Story by David Morales
With files from Karen Bartko