What can the city do to weigh in on $10 a-day child care?

If elected as City Councillor, I will push for the City to explore tax incentives that would encourage developers to include child care spaces in or near the workplace.

A major priority of business in Edmonton, something I support, is making childcare affordable and accessible to everyone who needs it. It’s right there in the comprehensive policy paper from the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Forging our Future.

It’s in the document’s recommendations to Prioritize an Inclusive Recovery for All -- “improve the affordability of and improve access to childcare.” 

Outgoing chamber president and CEO Janet Riopel reacted to the April 19 federal budget congratulating the government on the move to bring in a $10-a-day daycare saying post-pandemic is the right time to invest in children and housing.

But will this go anywhere?

Province luke-warm to proposal

In the days after, Premier Jason Kenney in question period, as well as Finance Minister Travis Toews and Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz had reservations, wondering if it’ll be an institutionalized program. Premier Jason Kenney chimed after receiving criticism from the Alberta NDP; he doesn’t want to see “9-5, cookie-cutter, union run, government care.”

Toews added that child care is essential in these economic times, however  “any child care agreement between Alberta and Ottawa must respect the diverse needs of children and the fundamental principle of parental choice in child care options."

The Alberta Legislature is where this battle will be played out.

Role for municipalities is limited

Earlier in the campaign I met with the Official Opposition Critic for Children’s Services, Rakhi Pancholi as well as members from the Edmonton Council on Early Learning and Care.

We do know, based on what was reported on Global National’s coverage of the 2021 budget, when comparing costs across the country, Edmonton fits in the middle averaging $44 a day per child.

The unfortunate news is there is a very limited role a city can play. There’s little that can be done to subsidize the much needed child care spaces. Besides, no one is calling for that. There is an agreement to be negotiated between the provinces and the feds. They can duke it out.

It wasn't that long ago the city, working with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union were going to include a daycare in the new garage in north Edmonton. That much desired amenity however was cut because of budget constraints.

However, it’s my intention to play what little role I can to improve this important situation to increase spaces.  Work can be done on that file, coordinating with End Poverty Edmonton.

 


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Scott Johnston for Edmonton City Council