UCP government to use leftover money for childcare benefit
Earlier this week, Alberta’s minister of Children’s Services announced the Working Parents Benefit to help offset childcare costs for working parents.
Rebecca Schulz said that the one-time payment of $561 per child will be available for parents who had to pay at least $561 in childcare costs for at least 3 months between 1 April and 31 December 2020 for any child under the age of 13. It’ll be available to parents who worked or attended school during that period.
Parents can apply for childcare that was given by either licensed or unlicensed providers, whether daycares, day homes, out-of-school care, preschools, or even family.
Applicants must provide receipts, and the government will audit applicants to ensure they meet eligibility requirements. Applications for the new benefit will run from next Monday (1 March) until the following Friday (5 March).
The provincial government will spend $108 million to fund the benefit. Regarding that amount, at one point during her announcement, Shulz said:
Part of our support for parents is providing access to childcare subsidies. For a variety of reasons, enrolment in childcare centres has been down significantly this past year. We recognize the stress and anxiety families continue to face. That’s why we’ve chosen to return this dollars back into the pockets of hard-working Alberta parents who have really been working to fuel our economy over the last year and who also rely on high-quality childcare to go to work.
When asked by Lisa Johnson of the Edmonton Journal why the benefit is only a one-time benefit given that $561 may not cover even a full-month of childcare costs, Schulz responded with:
In the Children’s Services budget for the last year, we do have $108 million of unspent dollars that would typically have gone to things like childcare subsidy . . for low and middle income families.
This seems like an appropriate time to remind readers that the $25-per-day childcare subsidy pilot project introduced by the NDP government in 2017 comes to a close next month.
The pilot project ended last July for 22 participating daycares who were subsidized through provincial funding. The 100 participating daycares who were subsidized through federal funding will see their pilot project end at the end of next month.
The UCP government replaced the pilot project, which had no means test, with a new $25-a-day subsidy programme restricted to families making under $75,000 a year. Families making under $50,000 a year will receive the full subsidy, while families making $50,000–75,000 will receive partial subsidies, depending on income level.
Both the pilot project and the new programme were funded by the federal government to the tune of just over $45 million a year.
Last summer, the Alberta NDP proposed a universal $25-a-day childcare subsidy programme. A report published a year ago claims that such a programme would cost around $1 billion.