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Rolling closures of child-care centres across Alberta set to begin today, says advocacy group

Children and Family Services Minister Searle Turton called the closures 'disappointing'. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Children and Family Services Minister Searle Turton called the closures 'disappointing'. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Some child-care centres across the province will begin rolling closures Tuesday to protest the $10-a-day child-care program, according to the body that represents those operators.

The Association of Alberta Childcare Entrepreneurs (AACE), which advocates for both for-profit and non-profit child-care centres and day home operators, said the closures are a result of the $10-per-day child-care program, which has created an "underfunded" and "restrictive" environment.

"This program, in its current state, places an unsustainable strain on the child care industry's ability to serve Alberta families effectively," reads a statement from the AACE.

"The closures are not just about the immediate financial challenges but also about the potential long-term impact of these policies on children's well-being."

The association did not say which operators were closing, or what dates the closures would happen, other than the closures would begin Tuesday.

The AACE is calling for emergency funding to aid in what it is calling a child-care crisis, and a re-evaluation of some of the program's policies. It said that "several dozen" centres are expected to participate in the closures.

The chair of AACE, Krystal Churcher, said the closures were a necessary action to bring attention to challenges facing child-care operators.

"The thought of disrupting families and communities is the last thing child-care centre operators want," said Churcher.

"[The closures] are about safeguarding the future of our children and ensuring a child-care system that genuinely reflects the needs of our families."

The joint federal-provincial child-care program took effect in 2022, with a goal of providing Albertans with $10 per day child care by 2026. Daycare fees were cut roughly in half in 2022, and the province said fees were reduced even further in 2023, reaching an average of $20 per day in March of last year.

Since its roll-out, the program has caused both frustration and confusion among parents and child-care operators, and brought much needed relief to others.

"The vast majority of child-care operators are supportive of the federal-provincial agreement and are collaborating with government to improve our child-care system to the benefit of families and children in our province," said provincial Children and Family Services Minister Searle Turton.

"It is disappointing that a small number of child-care programs who do not support $10-per-day care are choosing to scare families with random closures instead of engaging in good faith on the development of a new early learning and child-care funding formula."

Turton said child-care operators are required to inform the ministry about any planned closures, and encouraged parents to report any closures they may experience.