Alberta Subsidies Slashed Before Affordable Child Care Program | The Canadian News

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was first published to clarify the minister’s statement that low-income families currently pay about $ 13 per day per child.

Weeks before Alberta introduces the first phase of the federal affordable child care program, child care operators across the province are being told that subsidies to low-income families are being cut.

Families receiving the maximum amount of provincial funding were receiving $ 644 per month to help pay for child care. In 2022, that will drop to $ 266 per month.

“The subsidy was not reduced, it is just different,” Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz told Global News on Friday.

“Instead of just having a subsidy, we have to lower the child care fees at every licensed space across the province and that requires an operating subsidy.”

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In January, child care rates will be reduced at licensed facilities in Alberta. That is being done as part of a federal agreement that Alberta signed in November.

The families argue that they did not know that this would mean they would receive less funding.

The single mother of a Jessica Hawkins currently receives the full provincial grant. While your rates will be cut in half starting in January, your allowance will be reduced to $ 266.

After dividing the cost of daycare with the father of her child, Hawkins will save $ 66 per month. I was hoping to save more than $ 100.

“A lot of parents I know are struggling and freaking out,” Hawkins said.

Also just before Christmas. For example, I used the part that I thought I was going to get to help get the Christmas presents. “

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The executive director of the Glengarry Child Care Society in Edmonton said he received the details of the grant from the province this week.

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Brad West said it was heartbreaking to have to tell low-income families that they will receive a lower subsidy.

“It makes me angry that the families that need it most are not getting the support they need. It’s not that full-fee parents don’t deserve that, they absolutely do. But our most vulnerable are not receiving support, ”West explained.

Schulz noted that low-income families currently pay about $ 13 a day per child on average. Many of them will drop to the average of $ 10 per day starting in January.

The federal government is investing $ 3.8 billion over the next five years to pay for the rate reduction.

Schulz said the province is maintaining its investment of approximately $ 380 million in child care each year.

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One operator questioned whether Alberta is pocketing the money it is saving by cutting subsidies and wants to know if Ottawa was told that aid for low-income families would be reduced by making the funding commitment.

“I would be disappointed if the federal government knew that this is the plan and that it will leave out fully subsidized parents,” West said.

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Global News has contacted the federal minister for comment.

West also noted that an incentive for child care has been removed.

Daycare centers received $ 150 per month for each child between 0 and 18 months.

For West, that will lower its operating income by roughly $ 12,000 in 2022.

Schulz said the funds were also being rolled over to the new operating grants, but admitted that he has heard concerns about the incentive and is investigating whether a change could be made.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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