WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has cancelled the Benefit Contribution Grant (BCG) for early childhood educators effective July 1, 2020; and
WHEREAS the cost of living in northern, remote communities in Alberta continues to be higher than other areas of the province; and
WHEREAS northern, remote communities will be disproportionately negatively impacted by the cancellation of the BCG;
WHEREAS incentives such as the BCG are critical to delivering effective, accessible, and affordable childcare to children and their families; and
WHEREAS early childhood educators and their employers are at risk of exiting the profession as a result of the cancellation of the BCG; and
WHEREAS the availability of quality early childhood educators in all communities allow for a stable workforce across all industry sectors; and
WHEREAS the cancellation of the BCG for early childhood educators has compounded the crisis being experienced in the childcare profession as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate that the Government of Alberta reinstate the Benefit Contribution Grant for early childhood educators, retroactive to July 1, 2020.
Council for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has received numerous requests and statements from the local early childhood educators in the community, expressing concern with the Government of Alberta’s decision to cancel the Benefit Contribution Grant for early childhood educators in Alberta effective July 1, 2020.
Correspondence received from Rebecca Schulz, Minister for Children’s Services, Government of Alberta, states “the Benefit Contribution Grant for childcare workers was implemented in 2007 in response to a bustling economy and extremely high labour demands. That has changed.” It is agreed that the days of the “bustling economy” have passed, however, there remains a high demand for qualified early childhood educators, especially in rural, remote communities. Moreover, cost of living in many northern communities is high, and the Benefit Contribution Grant provided childcare service providers a financial incentive to attract and retain qualified professionals.
Accessible and affordable childcare is an essential building block for a thriving workforce and labour market. The loss of the Benefit Contribution Grant for early childhood educators will likely result in workers leaving the profession which will negatively impact the number of childcare spaces available in our communities. The resulting reduction in number of childcare spaces impacts the ability for people to enter the labour market including sectors such as small businesses, education, healthcare, and oil and gas.
In a survey conducted by the Association of Childcare Educators of Alberta, it was found that as the pandemic continues, 70% of all childcare centres could face permanent closure in the next one to three months if they are not given help with their operation costs. Early childhood educators in northern communities are also concerned that once centres have the ability to open their doors again, there may be an even greater shortage of early childhood educators, due to the loss of their Benefit Contribution Grant. This will result in a labour market shortage, as families will not be able to secure affordable childcare, recreating the “extremely high labour demands” that are supposed to have ended.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.