May 21st, 2024

Phillips calling for help for childcare operators


By Al Beeber on November 13, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips has weighed in on her party’s call for the Alberta government to help child-care operators keep their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week NDP critic Rakhi Pancholi said in Edmonton the province’s Children’s Services Department has roughly $70 million in unspent funds because of lower care subsidies going to child-care providers, this being due to reduced capacity brought on by COVID.
The province has announced that daycare workers will be supported through the use of $15 million of bilateral child-care money from Ottawa.
Phillips, who knows first-hand the expenses of child care, told The Herald this week that the cost of childcare has a huge impact on family budgets.
“Most of the provinces have concluded agreements with the federal government on that roadmap to $10-a-day childcare availability and expansion of spaces. And so other Canadians are going to begin to enjoy that. We know that those federal funds are going to result in saving Albertans who have children under the age of five thousands of dollars per year,” she said.
“I know that child care operators themselves have been under tremendous pressure with the opening and closing, the various pressures that have been put on them and put on us all by the COVID-19 pandemic, Phillips said.
The Alberta NDP has called on the Alberta government to conclude the agreement with Ottawa, she said.
“Right before the federal election, the Children’s Services minister said ‘oh ya, we were almost there.’ Well here we are, at least a month-and-a-half later, still no agreement, no movement on behalf of Alberta families,” said Phillips adding the NDP thinks the UCP is stonewalling “because Mr. Kenney would prefer to have a little tantrum, picking fights and lobbing little spit balls at Mr. Trudeau.
“Meanwhile, Alberta families are on the hook for thousands of dollars a year in extra costs because these guys haven’t done their job on behalf of working people,” she said.
Philips said the UCP also talked about additional COVID-19 management supports for childcare operators because there is unspent money within the Children’s Services budget.
“It is really important to make sure those funds are forwarded to child care operators.”
Phillips said attraction and retention of staff isn’t easy and the government needs to make sure there is both quantity of spaces and quality of child care.
“They need to be laser-focused on that and they are not, she said.
“The local effects of this are significant,” said Phillips, whose kids are now 10 and 12 so she doesn’t have to pay the big child care bills that many families do.
“But the last year that I paid child care for two kids it was $1,300 a month. And that’s low. I mean it was a few years ago, too. It is a mortgage payment and the more that we can reduce those costs for working people, the better off we are. It’s better for our economy, it’s better for workforce attachment, all these economic reasons.
“It’s also better for early learning outcomes. When we were in government, we funded a number of spaces at $25 a day with the intention of expanding that across the province once we understood how that program would interact with various kinds of public and non-profit and other forms of child care.”
The NDP funded spaces at three facilities in Lethbridge, Phillips said, including Opokaa’sin Child Care Centre, the YMCA and Agape Learning Centre, the latter which had some specialized child care services for children with disabilities.
“All of those programs are now cancelled and that has had a significant effect on families, Phillips said.
One couple with three-year-old twins she met while knocking on doors in 2019 told her they had gotten the $25-a-day spaces which was huge for them because with their income they didn’t qualify for subsidies but by no means were they wealthy, Phillips recalled. They expressed fear they would lose those spaces and they have.
“We’ve seen through the pandemic exactly the reasons why we need to take child care seriously. Women’s workforce attachment has been lower, women’s economic outcomes have been more severely affected and more negative in the long term because of the lack of child care,” said.
Phillips said economists across all political spectrums in Canada are talking about the “value of childcare as a public service. It’s not just about babysitting,” she said.
“It’s also about early education. We expect so much more from our five-year-olds when they go into kindergarten nowadays than we did when we were kids. And having that choice of having early learning options for parents, maybe it’s not full-time, but some of those early learning options at three or four or five makes a huge difference for kids so that they’re sort of starting at a level playing field at five and they can go along through education and meet their full potential.”

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Citi Zen

Sure, Phillips, make the taxpayer pay for your idiotic ideas again. I have no desire to further fund your child care. Why should the Alberta taxpayer foot the bill for this? How stupid!
Families with young children already get hundreds of dollars or more, monthly in child support. Take that away, then ask the taxpayer to help.

Last edited 2 years ago by Citi Zen