Peace River Day Care receives update from Minister on pilot program

Susan Thompson
Express Staff

The Peace River Child Care Association (PRCCA) has received a letter from the provincial government confirming that the $25 a day grant for day care is under review.

“The terms of the pilot agreement have not changed from original terms,” Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Shulz wrote in a letter dated July 19.

“Those Centres expecting to receive their next round of funding by March 2020 will do so.”

As one of the first childcare centres to receive the grant funding under the pilot started by the previous NDP government, Sugar Plum Tree Day Care will not be eligible for another round of funding, and will no longer receive the grant in 2020.

The daycare currently charges $550 a month for a full time child of any age, and is expecting fees to go up to between $1,100 to $1,200 a month next April when the grant funding ends, depending on the age of the child in care.

PRCCA’s treasurer previously told the Express the grant has benefited the day care by allowing it to operate at full capacity with a full staff, serving 100 local families.

The letter also confirmed what the Minister had previously told major Canadian media, which is that the program is under review.

“We have begun to look at the data and information we are receiving from the pilot project. This review will be rigorous and based on data and outcomes, and we will also listen to the feedback from childcare operators, parents and families,” Shulz wrote.

“We will remain responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and stay focused on the needs of parents. As a working parent myself, I know that parents and childcare providers need a reliable and predictable childcare arrangement. If any changes are to be made following the review of the pilot, we will share that information with the people of Alberta in a timely and transparent way,” the Minister wrote.

No formal consultation process has been announced, but the childcare society already sends regular quarterly reports on the program to the government.

The childcare society has suggested parents contact their local MLA and the Minister directly to provide feedback on the pilot grant if they would like it to continue.

PRCCA also formally asked for letters of support for the grant from both Northern Sunrise County and the Town of Peace River, and councils discussed the requests at their regular council meetings in late July.

While councillors were generally in favour of the program, some councillors felt a subsidy tying daycare fees to income might be more fair than a grant that allows all families to access care at the same lowered price regardless of income.

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