Premier Rachel Notley announced Thursday the centres across Alberta that will participate in a three-year-long, $25-a-day child-care program.
The $10-million pilot project was unveiled back in November 2016, when the province said it would allow qualifying early learning child care (ELCC) centres to offer daycare at a maximum of $25 a day.
On Thursday, the province revealed the 22 locations participating in the pilot project, creating 1,296 affordable child-care spaces – 714 of which will be new. Children aged zero to six are eligible.
Five of the centres will be in Edmonton and Calgary. The others are spread out across the rest of the province in the following communities:
- Grande Prairie
- Lac La Biche
- Peace River
The province said 119 new child-care staff will be hired to support the program.
To qualify for the project, child-care centres had to be non-profit and had to submit a grant proposal. Existing licensed day cares and proposed centres were able to apply before the Jan. 20 deadline.
The province said some early learning and child-care centres with existing child-care programs are expected to begin operating as early as May 1, with additional centres opening throughout the summer.
Each new child-care centre will receive up to $500,000 in operating funding in the first year, with the opportunity to receive two more years of funding.
When considering which centres would participate, the government said it considered capacity trends, low socio-economic status, and the needs of indigenous and newcomer families.
The province said the project will also address gaps in the existing child-care system, including:
- Flexible child-care options for parents doing shift work (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
- Accessible locations, such as in public buildings
- Supports for children with diverse needs
According to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report called They Go Up So Fast: 2015 Child Care Fees in Canadian Cities, the median cost for monthly, licensed full-day child care in Edmonton was $900 for infants, $790 for toddlers and $800 for preschoolers. Calgary parents paid slightly more, with a median cost of $1,075 for babies, $960 for toddlers and $910 for preschoolers.
The $25-a-day program would lower that cost to $500-a-month for families of children who go to daycare five days a week.
The province said at the end of the three-year pilot, there will be a “rigorous evaluation process” to determine continued funding and/or possible expansion of the program.
Notley has been pushing for affordable child care for years and moving toward $25-a-day child care — as finances permit — was one of her 2015 provincial election promises.