Changes to Alberta’s child care system

The Alberta and federal governments have reached an agreement to extend the Canada–Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement that will provide Alberta over $290 million in funding over 4 years to improve access to high quality, affordable, flexible, and inclusive early learning and child care programs and services.

The extension of the agreement builds on the commitments made in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework and ensures that funding continues to be available to support child care programs and services for Alberta families.

This agreement is an important first step in the provincial and federal governments coming together to negotiate a longer-term strategy for accessible, affordable, high-quality child care in Alberta. Both governments will continue to come to the table in pursuit of a fair and flexible agreement on the Canada-wide early learning and early child care funding commitments.

Read: Canada and Alberta reach renewed agreement for child care funding (July 23, 2021)

Funding for child care

This year, the Alberta government is directing nearly $400 million to child care. Under the Canada-Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, $45 million dollars will support Alberta families by enhancing the Alberta child care subsidy program and $56 million will fund a workforce strategy to support the child care sector in recovering by recruiting and developing early childhood educators in 2021-22.

This means:

  • access to affordable, high-quality child care to help more parents go back to work and support their family and our economy
  • extending out-of-school care subsidies and expanding parent choice
  • more parents in the most financial need will be supported to provide for their families
  • help for employers to recruit, train and develop qualified staff

Child care subsidy

Access to affordable, high-quality child care is important so parents can go back to work and grow our economy. With $45 million of this funding, the Alberta government will be expanding the subsidy program to families with a household income of up to $90,000 and making subsidy available to support families who have children attending licensed preschools.

Find more information on the child care subsidy, as well as current subsidy rates and how to apply.

How subsidy benefits families

Funding under the bilateral agreement signed in 2020 went towards enhancing the child care subsidy model in Alberta. This meant the majority of families supported by the child care subsidy saw an 18% increase to their subsidy rate.

With the increased threshold and preschool eligibility:

  • families of about 7,200 more children will now get up to $330 off their child care fees
  • families eligible for subsidy in licensed preschools will pay $125 less per month (per child)

Average fees in licensed preschools in March 2020 were $188. Up to 5,000 children may be eligible for the new preschool subsidy.

School-age summer subsidy rate increase

To assist parents with the cost of child care for school-age children in the summer months, the subsidy rates for school-age children increased to support full day attendance during July and August 2021.

The school-age rate change will change back to the regular rate in September.

Find more information on child care subsidy.

Funding for the workforce

Throughout the pandemic, child care operators have navigated through closures, quarantines and staffing challenges, showing resilience by reopening and staying open. Under the new agreement, a $56 million investment will help attract, train and retain child care staff and educators.

The Alberta government is directing $4.13 million of this funding to support wage top-ups for certified early childhood educators in preschool, previously only available for certified educators in licensed daycare and out-of-school care programs. This will provide:

  • $2.14 to $6.62 per hour in additional wages, varying by certification level, and will start September 1, 2021.
  • wage top-ups for up to 1,300 early childhood educators working in licensed preschools

More information on the workforce strategy funding will be announced soon.

Child care quality

High-quality child care is essential in getting parents back to work and for our economic recovery. Parents need to know their children are safe, well cared for and learning before they can go to work.

The quality of a program is established by certified educators who support and provide quality care and early learning experiences for children every day.

The foundation of quality is built on highly trained and qualified educators who support the growth, development and learning of children every day. More support to help recruit and develop qualified educators will help programs support families with high-quality child care they need.

Child care accessibility

In March, grants were made available to child care operators to create 1,500 more spaces in day homes and daycare centres, including overnight care.

Read: Expanding child care options for working parents (March 25, 2021)