The Yukon government has unveiled new details on a promise for affordable childcare.
Starting on April 1, the government said parents can save up to $700 per month, per child. The subsidy will be provided directly to licensed child care providers, who will be adjusting the bill of parents accordingly.
Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said they have been working with over 70 private, public, NGO-run and First Nation-run daycares across the territory. She said each of those facilities will have a transfer payment agreement finalized before April 1.
As an example, the government said if a family pays $850 per month for one child, they would now pay $150 in fees.
The subsidy is only available for children who are enrolled in a licensed child care space. Children in part-time programs will receive a prorated fee reduction.
Opposition parties took issue with the fact that not every family is able to access licensed child care, and will be unable to benefit from the current program. Education critic Scott Kent noted that could include parents who have previously given up child care spots and decided to leave the workforce.
“While this announcement will provide welcome financial relief to some families, it may leave others behind and it doesn’t address existing gaps in our system,” said NDP leader Kate White said in the legislature.
“It’s a pretty wide net,” McPhee said, speaking with reporters on March 9. “It’s as wide a net as we could cast in the first phase. Licensed daycares are managed and they’re required to comply with certain rules and regulations.”
In the legislature, McPhee said licensed childcare programs and services need to be expanded. She said the new funding program also includes a wage supplement for qualified childhood educators.
“We need to protect our early childhood educators and have them be properly paid, properly resourced, and properly retained into their position so that children in the Yukon can benefit,” she said.
The government said the program is not a replacement for existing benefits such as the Direct Operating Grant, the Yukon child care subsidy, the Grandparent Grant and the Teen Parent Grant.
Questioned by the opposition as to the timing of the program, McPhee said the program will start April 1 to align with the start of the fiscal year.
“There was no interest in waiting any longer with respect to this for families. We’ve seen the impact of COVID-19 on families, the stress of having daycare either unavailable or only partially available. We know that this has been a long-time situation, particularly for women re-entering the workforce, trying to start a business or returning to school,” she said.
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