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Larivee: Subsidized day care is a great investment

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Author: 
Larivee, Danielle
Publication Date: 
26 Dec 2017
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When I announced an expansion to our $25-per-day child-care pilot program last week, Calgary teacher Danielle Pitman was there to stand with me.

With her voice breaking with emotion, she spoke about the difference affordable child care has made for her family.

Her comments echoed what I have heard all over this province. I have had parents in tears, telling me that, finally, they don’t have to choose between diapers and paying the child-care bill.

In my hometown of Slave Lake, I heard from a mom who said that if her child care was this affordable, she would be able to go back to work. I hear from a lot of parents who feel that way.

For far too long, working moms and dads in Alberta have been left behind by Conservative governments that believe investments in affordable, high-quality child care — care we know makes a difference for families — is a waste.

I’ve been a mom struggling to find and to pay for child care for my three kids, and I know, without question, that investing in child care is no waste of money.

When the cost of child care is as much as a second mortgage, too many families are worried about how to make ends meet. Many young moms and dads are forced to choose between child care and pursuing their career. Some couples may decide not to start a family at all.

Any government that wants to make life better for families simply cannot ignore this issue.

And the NDP government is taking action toward a better child-care system.

Last year, we announced $25 per-day child care centres in 22 communities across the province. And just recently, we announced that with the support of the federal government, we’ll be able to expand that program to 100 sites. This will bring the number of children to almost 6,000.

This new investment means more than 1,200 more parents are able to enter the workforce in the province — moms and dads who have been prevented by the cost of child care from going back to work.

That’s why I was so disappointed to see United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney and the conservatives continue to oppose action on affordable child care — perhaps because, as he has stated in the past, he prefers “a parent at home.”

And UCP MLAs have characterized this investment in affordable child care as a waste that puts dollars at risk.

I want to be clear that I know that for some families, having a parent stay at home is a wonderful option.

But to hear Kenney say that he would prefer a parent to be at home is out of touch with the reality of Alberta in 2017. Many of the women that I know just need an affordable option to return to their chosen career as quickly as possible.

The sad reality is that it’s parents in Calgary who would bear the brunt of Kenney and the UCP’s position on affordable child care. Calgary is one of the most expensive cities in Canada for child care. It is not unusual for a family to pay $1,300 for one child each month.

Particularly as Calgarians are beginning to feel the start of the economic recovery, it’s a shame that Kenney thinks that making the lives of young families more affordable isn’t a good investment.

Kenney and the UCP seem to be living in an alternate reality — a place where all young families can afford for a parent to stay home and where new moms don’t want an opportunity to pursue their own career.

Perhaps Kenney should have a chat with Albertans such as Danielle Pitman, because parents such as her have been waiting too long for their government to take action and make child care more affordable.

Danielle Larivee is Alberta’s minister of children’s services.

-reprinted from Calgary Herald

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Entered Date: 
3 Jan 2018
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