To help recruit and keep skilled educators and provide one-time COVID relief funding, the Government of Alberta says it is directing almost $35 million in funding to licensed child care programs. The funding is coming from the annual Canada-Alberta bilateral agreement.
“We know quality staff provide quality child care and we’re glad to help create stability after a very challenging period for educators,” said Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz. “This funding will help strengthen child care programs that support children and their families in this province every day.”
Of the roughly $35 million, $20.57 million is for a childcare staff recovery and retention program to help attract and retain qualified and certified educators to the sector. Another $15 million in unspent bilateral funding from the federal government for COVID-19 relief will be used to further support operators as quickly as possible.
The unspent funds are due to lower than expected enrolment and expenditures, the UCP said Monday, but the NDP were having no part of it.
NDP Critic for Children’s Services Raki Pancholi had earlier in the day joined child care operators and parents to call on the UCP to use roughly $70 million in unspent funding in the Children’s Services budget to support centres struggling to make ends meet.
“Minutes later, the UCP hastily re-announced existing federal funding from the long-standing bilateral agreement, most of which cannot be used by providers to pay operational costs like rent or wages,” Pancholi said. “What can be used is a fraction of what the UCP already has available in its own budget.”
Pancholi went on to say childcare operators are struggling to pay their staff and keep their doors open. “Minister Rebecca Schulz and the UCP are sitting on unspent dollars meant to help these small businesses fighting to stay afloat, and help working parents trying to stay in their job.”