It’s time for Universal Early Learning and Child Care in Alberta
All children deserve a Fair Start in life. Yet, Alberta’s inconsistent, expensive, and incomplete delivery of child care means that many kids are being left behind. Fair Start Alberta is a campaign spearheaded by the Alberta Federation of Labour for universal early childhood education and care. The campaign highlights the benefits a system of universal child care would bring for Alberta’s kids, families, women and workers.
The Notley Government recognized the importance of high-quality early childhood education and care with their pilot program of 7000 spaces across 122 non-profit Early Learning and Child Care Centres, in which $25-a-day care was initiated, along with a strong curriculum, staff training, wage top ups and other improvements to ensure high-quality care.
In an evaluation of the $25-a-day Early Learning and Child Care Centres, parents reported having greater freedom of choice for career, work and school arrangements — meaning, women were empowered to choose full or part-time work, seek additional education, volunteer in their communities and start businesses. The reduced financial burden allowed families greater financial security.
But now with the UCP government in power, Premier Jason Kenney has offered absolutely no plan on child care. The UCP platform released on March 30, 2019 offered zero explanation of their plan for child care. When asked his position on child care in follow-up interviews, Jason Kenney has said the UCP will “maintain current child care supports and create new spaces by cutting red tape on operators, while not jeopardizing safety.” It begs the question: what regulations can be cut that will not jeopardize the safety of our children?
We are now in the fourth phase of our campaign which concentrates on a Fair Start for Women. We know that universal access to early childhood education and care creates opportunities for women to participate in and contribute to our society fairly and fully - through workforce participation, educational attainment, as well as volunteer service, community membership, and enhanced economic participation as wage earners and consumer spenders.
We are calling on the government to support a strong economy that includes women to:
- Recognize the positive impact access to child care has on women and gender equity.
- Expand access to high-quality centre-based child care.
- Create a concrete plan with clear timelines to build a universal system of early childhood education and care in Alberta.
On July 7th, we hosted our annual Fair Start Community BBQs in Calgary, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Red Deer and St. Albert. These family friendly events are for all workers, union and non-union, and their families, to get together and to discuss the importance of early childhood education and care. We had another year of sucessful,exciting events, providing information regarding a Fair Start for Women, as well as providing a picnic lunch, bouncy castles, crafts and face painting - all at no charge. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us.
The Fair Start campaign is reachable through the Alberta Federation of Labour at:
#300, 10408 124 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5N 1R5