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Alberta increasing eligibility for childcare subsidies with renewed federal funding

Last Updated Jul 27, 2021 at 6:42 am MDT

EDMONTON – Alberta is increasing the income ceiling for families in need of child care subsidies, thanks to a renewed funding agreement between Ottawa and the province.

On Friday, the two governments announced Alberta will collect $290 million from the feds to help make child care more affordable in the province.

On Monday, Alberta detailed how that cash would be divvied up.

READ MORE: Ottawa giving $290M to Alberta for childcare programs

Previously, families making a combined income of $75,000 or more were ineligible to received government supports for childcare or early education programs.

The province is spending $45 million to increase that cap to $90,000, which the UCP estimates will make support available for 12,000 more kids.

Another $4.25 million will be put towards helping families with kids in licensed preschools.

Previously, subsidies were only available for licensed daycare, family day home, and out-of-school care programs, but now eligible families with kids in preschool will get $125 a month.

“These investments are targeted, based on what we heard Albertans need, and are the next step in our longer-term strategy to support the choices parents are making,” said Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz in a release.

Alberta will also spend $4 million on wage top-ups for early childhood educators.

Jennifer Sissons, owner and director of A Child First Preschool, says the wage top-ups will help schools retain staff.

“Preschool educators work hard every day to support children and their early childhood education. Including preschool educators in wage top-ups now recognizes that preschool education is a venue for high-quality child care on the same level as daycare and out-of-school care programs. It will help us to retain and attract qualified staff,” she said in a release.

Her sentiments are echoed by the Alberta Preschool Advocacy Association.

“This will help us acknowledge and retain our skilled educators. It will also give parents some welcome financial relief,” the association said.

RELATED VIDEO: Child care advocates say renewed deal doesn’t go far enough

Some child care advocates have said that the renewed deal doesn’t go far enough.

“For families to be able to access childcare, especially as we’re recovering from this very serious pandemic, my hope is that the dollars will go towards those lower-middle-class or middle-class families that were left behind when we restructure those subsidies this past year,” Judy White, Director of Operations at the Thornhill Child Care Society, told CityNews last week.

She says the funding is an important step forward but adds she hopes all Albertan families, regardless of income, will have access to quality affordable childcare at all times.

“If you have one child that’s going into an infant program, let’s say, and you’re expected to come up with $1,500 a month [for childcare], plus your mortgage or rent payments, plus your utility payments, I ask what’s left for food and other essentials? Not much is left.”

-with files from Cara Campbell