11/28/2012 04:10 EST | Updated 01/28/2013 05:12 EST

Advocacy group calling on Alberta to invest in quality public child care

EDMONTON - An advocacy group says an increasing number of families are unable to access or afford child care in Alberta because the province underfunds the system.

Public Interest Alberta has launched a new advocacy campaign calling upon the Conservative government to invest in building a quality public early childhood education and care system.

Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of the group, says "the time to speak out is now so that the government will address the growing crisis in child care as part of their soon-to-be released social policy framework.”

Using data from a new national study on child care, the group says Alberta’s per capita funding for children from newborn to 12 years old is the sixth lowest of all provinces.

The group also says the increase in the number of child care spaces over the past six years has not kept pace with the increase in the number of children under the age of six.

It also says 50 per cent of all child care spaces in Alberta are for-profit as there is no government support for expanding not-for-profit and public daycare.

The group says the subsidy rate for low-income families is not keeping pace with the increased costs of childcare, so many low-income families cannot afford to put their children in licensed care.

Calgary Outreach co-ordinator Julie Hrdlicka says the figures clearly show why so many young Calgary families are unable to afford the high costs of childcare.

“It is time the Alberta government invested properly in building a quality public early childhood education and care system that will actually reduce the costs of quality care and address the critical needs of our growing population," she said.