ALBERTA

Affordable Childcare In Alberta Announced With 1,000 Spaces Opening In 2017

11/15/2016 04:59 EST | Updated 11/15/2016 04:59 EST

EDMONTON – The Alberta government says it will create 1,000 affordable daycare spaces next year that will cost parents a daily fee of no more than $25 a child.

The government is inviting non-profit organizations to apply for grants to develop and operate 18 new licensed Early Learning and Child Care Centres that are to offer more flexible hours than existing daycares.

Premier Rachel Notley said the program will help families and make it easier for mothers to return to work full or part time.

"For too long the needs of young families, the needs of children, the needs of working mothers, the needs of communities that require high quality affordable child care have not been enough of a priority,'' Notley said Tuesday to applause at a MacEwan University child care class.

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Child care fees in Alberta can run as high as $39 per child per day in licensed daycares. (Photo: Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock)

The left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said these new child-care spaces in Alberta will be among the most affordable in Canada after Quebec and Manitoba.

Child care fees in Alberta can run as high as $39 per child per day in licensed daycares.

Notley said the government will decide early next year which organizations will receive grants of up to $500,000 a year to run the facilities.

The government hopes to receive applications from different parts of the province including rural areas and wants them located in accessible locations such as public buildings in communities where there is greatest need.

Terri Butler, a working mother with a five-year-old son, said quality and affordability are really lacking in Alberta now.

"If we didn't have a dual income, we couldn't afford child care. I don't know how other parents do it."

Butler said she currently spends about three quarters of her monthly paycheque on child care. Their family depends on her husband's income for other expenses.

"We had some trouble finding child care for Eric, he has a silent disability that makes it hard to find the quality where people can look after him,'' she said.

"If we didn't have a dual income, we couldn't afford child care. I don't know how other parents do it.''

The promise of more quality affordable child care spaces was a key plank in the NDP's May 2015 provincial election campaign.

Notley said the plan is to expand this $10 million pilot project as the economy improves.

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Premier Rachel Notley expects the program will create 230 new child care jobs next year. (Photo: Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The government expects the program will create 230 new child care jobs next year.

Notley said her government expects demand for the 1,000 spaces will outstrip the supply.

"We would like to be able to offer it to every family that wants it, but we can't,'' she said. "We hope to be able to offer it primarily to those families who need it the most.''

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