Many Red Deer-area parents will save hundreds of dollars a month on child care fees starting January, when the National Child Care Program starts up. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Many Red Deer-area parents will save hundreds of dollars a month on child care fees starting January, when the National Child Care Program starts up. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Many central Alberta parents will save hundreds in monthly child care fees starting in January

Local child care operators appreciate getting transitional funding

Many Red Deer-area working parents of preschoolers could see a monthly savings of nearly $500 starting in January when the National Child Care Program begins covering about nearly their fees.

This is “absolutely fantastic news” for many Central Alberta families — especially those who didn’t qualify for child care subsidies and were struggling to find affordable care, said Cameron Wiebe, owner of Lotsa’Tots Child Care Services in Red Deer.

“These parents were either scrambling… or were having to put up with different child care options than they would have preferred,” Wiebe added.

Local child care operators who opted into program announced last April and now being implemented by the federal Liberal government, are thrilled it’s starting up next month.

“We are excited to see how this will be rolled out,” said Wiebe, who’s already hearing some good feedback from parents, but believes many don’t realize how big their savings will be.

At Lotsa’Tots’s two locations, parents of un-subsidized preschoolers will pay $690 a month for full-time care, compared to the $1,175 they were previously paying. The Nations Child Care Program will kick in the difference.

Wiebe said families who qualify for child-care subsidies, based on income, will continue to get the same subsidy — and will also see a fee reduction.

This means the cost of full-time care for their subsidized children under 19 months will be reduced by a further $80 a month through the National Child Care Program.

The $3.8 billion investment over five years is being provided by the federal government on a 50-50 basis with provinces and territories. The goal is to have parents paying only $10 a day, per child, in five year’s time.

This week, the Ottawa and the Alberta government jointly announced that $16.5 million in transitional funding will be provided to child-care operators in this province who are participating in the program.

This one-time, flexible grant is meant to help ease the transition for operators, who can use it to address any operational needs that arise. They will receive what amounts to $211 per enrolled space early in the new year.

“The government has been listening to us,” said Wiebe, who welcomed this stop-gap grant. Since facility operators will not get their first federal-provincial payment towards child care fees until February, this will help cover January’s bills and “help us keep the lights on,” he added.

However, child care operators in Alberta are still hoping the provincial government will also restore some other funding that was previously removed.

The province used to pay for the employment insurance, Canadian Pension Plan and Worker’s Compensation contributions for child care employees, who receive a salary top-up from the province. But child-care facility operators are now having to pay for these contributions.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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