The Alberta government is looking to parents to help shape the future of child care in the province by sharing their thoughts in a online survey. Meanwhile critics say the program needs to change.
The Early Learning and Child Care Parent Engagement Survey invites parents to share their ideas about what defines high-quality child care and the services they expect from operators.
The province said feedback gathered from the survey will help shape the future of child care in Alberta. But critics say changes need to be made to the program before moving it forward.
“There has been so many issues with the rollout of this program, the communication with parents specifically,” said Krystal Churcher, chair of the Association of Alberta Childcare Entrepreneurs. “I think that after being in this program in Alberta for two years, we’re starting to really see the issues come forward. We reduced fees to 50% in 2022. We’re now in a situation where we’ve seen the deterioration of our child-care system just from that reduction.”
Churcher said parents are still in a situation where they don’t have access to the child care they want and children are at risk of being in program that doesn’t support them.
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“We will never see $10 day daycare across the country for everyone,” Churcher added. “I think parents should be asking themselves when they’re expecting $10 a day daycare, what can you actually buy for $10? How can this work so that we can ensure that you get the exact same programming for $10 a day.”
The survey is the latest step in making Alberta’s child-care system more affordable and more accessible under the Canada-Alberta Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. Since entering the agreement, child-care fees have been reduced by an average of more than 50 per cent, putting more than $900 million – $6,600 per child per year – back into the pockets of Alberta parents. A total of $3.8 billion is being invested over five years through the agreement with the federal government to reduce child-care fees.
“(Parents’) input on early learning and child care is invaluable and instrumental in ensuring Alberta’s early learning and child-care system is both affordable and meets the diverse needs of families,” said Searle Turton, Minister of Children and Family Services.
The province said child-care fees reached an average of $20 per day in Alberta in March 2023 and are on track to reach an average of $10 per day in 2025-26. Since entering the agreement, more than 40,000 more children have been enrolled in child care, and approximately 20,000 new licensed spaces have been created.
The survey will run until Feb. 11.
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