REGINA - Relief is coming at the start of next month for families who spend money on child care fees.
The governments of Saskatchewan and Canada have made a joint announcement that parent fees for regulated child care in the province will go down to $10 a day as of April 1.
The announcement was made Monday morning in Regina by federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould and by provincial Education Minister Dustin Duncan. The announcement took place at the YMCA Albert Street Child Care Centre in Regina.
What it means for parents of children under age six who attend regulated child care on a full-time basis is that they can expect to pay $217.50 per month, resulting in what the province said is savings on average of between $395 to $573 per month for each child under six compared to before.
“The impact that this is having on their household budgets is tremendous,” Gould said to reporters.
“I was talking with a mom earlier today who is going going back to work after maternity leave. And she was saying that this has made it possible for her to go back to work because if fees had been where they were over a year ago, she just wouldn't have been able to afford to have a child in daycare and to go back to work.”
The $10 a day mark was achieved by the province three years ahead of the schedule. The two governments had committed to achieving that mark by 2025-26 in the Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care. This is the third such fee reduction since the agreement took effect two years ago, and Saskatchewan is the third jurisdiction to reach $10 a day, after Nunavut and Manitoba.
"It's very exciting that we can stand here today and say that we will have achieved this goal three years ahead of schedule," said Duncan.
“Affordable, inclusive and high quality childcare not only provides our children with a positive start in life, but also gives parents the flexibility and choice to build both a family and a career. We want our children safe, healthy and develop to their full potential with strong families and supportive communities. And we want to ensure that there is affordability relief in place so that we can continue to grow a strong province as the best place to live to work and to raise a family. That is growth that works for everyone.”
The agreement between the federal and provincial governments also includes commitments to increase the number of child care spaces — an important issue in communities such as Regina which have reported wait lists of a year for parents seeking child care spaces.
The agreement signed in 2021 includes a federal investment of nearly $1.1 billion over five years for regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under the age of six in Saskatchewan. The province has been increasing training spaces and education to increase numbers of early childhood educators, as well as establishing a wage grid and increasing wages.
Minister Gould said it was always part of the vision to make sure child care was not only affordable but also accessible and available.
“Saskatchewan has an ambitious goal of creating 28,000 additional spaces by ‘25-‘26,” Gould said. “They have already announced an additional 4,000 spaces that have been created since we signed our agreement just a year and a half ago — really, quite a short period of time. But why is this important? Because we know that with lower fees, working families are going to want to be able to access childcare, and we know that they are long wait lists. And to fully enable the benefit of this initiative, we need to ensure that families can access childcare.”
Duncan said early on he was “disabused quickly” of any notion that there would be any issue filling the 28,000 spaces. “It’s going to be more a lack of workers. That’s why we’re working very hard to increase those training spaces, increase obviously temporarily the wages but also develop some long term plans in terms of wages, looking at benefits, that sort of thing, so that we can attract a qualified workforce going forward.”
One of those parents who says she will benefit is Julie Wermie, a mother of four kids with two still attending daycare. She said daycare had been financially difficult for her family, with fees costing upwards of $800-$900 per child.
“Now that they are down to $10 a day, it is absolutely amazing,” Wemie said. “It helps so much for us continuing to put away education money for our kids later on.” She also said it would help with the cost of living going up.
“Originally we were paying $2,000 a month in fees. And now, with $10, we will be able to go on family vacations, go doing all the sporting activities and just having a place that is providing support for us.”