An Examination of Alberta’s Support for Child Care Services During the First Two Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    One in five providers closed during the reference week report facing the possibility of permanent closure

    EDMONTON, AB – July 22, 2020

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all provincial governments provided some form of continued provincial funding to support Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) services that were required to close. This funding also aimed to meet a portion of the operating costs of those programs that could remain open as enrolments fell. Support from Alberta’s government, however, was insufficient and the negative impacts on Alberta’s ELCC sector reverberated dramatically. Alberta lead Canada in layoffs, financial instability and the prospect of child care programs not being able to reopen.

    A new summary report from the Muttart Foundation and the Canadian Child Care Federation using data from a national survey undertaken in mid-May, compares the pandemic experiences of service providers in Alberta with those in other parts of Canada. Apart from providing emergency child care for essential workers during COVID-19, the Alberta government declined the urgent requests from ELCC stakeholders in Alberta for increased assistance needed to cushion the impact of closures and job losses. The province also neglected to provide the basis for a safe re-opening.

    In provinces that fared better than Alberta, ongoing operational and emergency funding made the difference in supporting ELCC programs at a time when revenues were dramatically reduced—ensuring that providers and programs would be able to re-open once provincial restrictions were changed. The survey results exposed the lack of consistent and reliable foundational funding supports for Alberta’s ELCC sector both before and at the time of crisis. These provincial response comparisons amplify the need for systemic change to provide ongoing operational support for Alberta’s ELCC sector.

    The Ministry of Children’s Services should quickly engage with the ELCC sector to determine the provincial investments required to stabilize services across the province and to begin the process of rebuilding service levels. Additional public resources and supports will also be needed to ensure that child care centres and family day homes can deliver high-quality, affordable early learning and care in the new service environments brought on by the pandemic.

    Much like the rest of Canada, Alberta’s economic recovery will depend, in significant measure, on the successful reopening and resumption of child care services across the province.

    Background information: