Federal, provincial governments lower cost of child care in Sask.

·4 min read
The commitment is retroactive, meaning some families will get a refund on part of the fees they've paid for child care. (Erik White/CBC  - image credit)
The commitment is retroactive, meaning some families will get a refund on part of the fees they've paid for child care. (Erik White/CBC - image credit)

The federal and Saskatchewan governments are lowering child-care costs, getting the province one step closer to a $10-a-day child-care plan.

Families with children under six and whose children are in provincially licensed child care spaces can get the fee reduction grant, which will mean paying around $300 to $400 less per month, staring Feb. 1, 2022.

The grants are also retroactive to July 1, 2021, meaning some families will get a refund, depending on the age of their child and the fees they pay.

The goal had been for Saskatchewan families to see their child-care fees reduced by 50 per cent by the end of next year, but Saskatchewan is achieving that goal ahead of schedule, and is the first province to do so.

"It's going to mean a real, tangible benefit for [families] financially," Karina Gould, federal minister of families, children, and social development, said in an interview.

Two parents she spoke with during a Facebook live Friday morning each had two young children in daycare. She said this grant can save them $600 or $700 dollars a month.

"That's going to make a world of difference in terms of your financial situation and I certainly heard from parents this morning in Regina just how big an impact this is going to make for them," she said.

This reduction will only be available to facilities that are licensed with the provincial Ministry of Education.

The money is being transferred from the federal government to the provincial government, which will then pass it on to child-care facilities. The facilities will be responsible for distributing money to families for the retroactive grants.

The provincial government said in a news release that parents can call 1-855-824-9419 if they have questions about the grant, or they can email.

Reducing this fee ... enables [more women] to go back to work if that's what they want to do. - Minister Karina Gould

This grant system is part of a larger effort to make child care in Canada around $10 per day.

The almost $1.1 billion in federal funding over the next five years is also slated to create 28,000 new regulated early learning and child-care spaces in Saskatchewan for children under six years old. This includes expanding non-profit child-care centres, small child-care facilities and home-based child care.

Provincial Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in August, when the larger deal was signed, that a one-time investment of $17 million will be set aside this fiscal year to support the early childhood care workforce in Saskatchewan.

The average licensed child-care provider is expected to see a wage increase of up to $3 an hour, he said in August.

"We recognize that in order to have a child-care system that meets the needs of families, the wages of early childhood educators need to reflect the hard work that they do," Duncan said then.

An economic decision

Child care is often seen as a women's issue, but it is so much more than that, Gould said. She said it's an economic issue that affects almost everyone.

Women on average make less than men. In a heterosexual couple then, if someone is staying home, it's usually the mother, Gould said.

"We know the high cost of daycare can be a barrier for a lot of people to [accessing] child care," Gould said.

"Reducing this fee just means that more people, and especially women, can access quality child care for their children, and it also enables them to go back to work if that's what they want to do and to be able to grow in their own careers."

She said employers can more easily retain experienced people when they aren't forced out of the workforce because it doesn't make financial sense to send kids to daycare.

Gould also said the country has a real-world example of how this works from Quebec. That province instituted universal affordable child care in 1998. She said they're now the province with the highest female participation in the workforce.

The program also essentially pays for itself, she said. That's because the revenue generated by more people being able to enter the workforce is greater than the cost of the program.

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