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Looks like we are finally moving in the right direction

A column on the provincial and federal plans on $10-a-day childcare.
Childcare, daycare, stock
Sask. announced allocation of over 600 new childcare spaces in 20 communities.

Should I go back to the workforce or stay with my child?

I always thought that decision should be made by mom or dad, depending on their interests and priorities, not on the economic side of it.

Many things might not work right in Russia, but pre-school childcare is a part of the school system, which means that daycare and kindergarten are free of charge, just like school and high school. Kids can be admitted into the childcare system pretty early, but usually, parents start parting with their offspring after they are at least a year or a year and a half.

That option gives parents the freedom to choose, not feeling that they are forced to stay home because their wages won't offset the cost of children's education. Too many times, here I’ve heard the stories of mothers, and sometimes fathers, staying home just because they couldn't justify working with the price they would pay for having even one child, let alone two or more, in daycare.

A friend of mine in Calgary has two very active kids. Once they were old enough, she deicided that it would be better for her and their mental and general well-being if they would go to daycare, where they would find friends, start acquiring social skills, use up some of that energy and probably even learn something.

She ended up getting a job at the daycare as well, and even after an employee discount she was still paying her employer some money on top of her wages to cover the price of daycare for her two munchkins.

Some families that choose to send kids to daycare for their education and/or to be able to return to work often pay more for childcare a year than they do for their mortgages.

Pretty absurd, isn't it?

But it was our reality until recently.

Now that the federal government announced $10/day childcare for everyone in the country as their big plan, the provinces started gradually working in the same direction, trying to make childcare more accessible and affordable for everyone should they choose to use those services.

Saskatchewan announced in August that the province will have the $10-a-day early learning and childcare for families with children under six by the end of 2025-26 that Chrystia Freeland, Canada's deputy prime minister and minister of finance, promised.

On Monday, we saw the provincial government making the first step in their commitment to having more regulated childcare spaces in Saskatchewan. They announced that they allocated 601 new spaces in 20 communities across the province.

Estevan didn't make it to this list, as the government explained they were prioritizing the allocation of new childcare spaces in communities where there is both an intense need for childcare and an increased level of vulnerability (I guess it's good news that we are not too bad, right?) But the funding for the spaces announced this time is being provided through the Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, and Estevan received substantial funding under the same agreement earlier this year.

Thanks to that, we will see the opening of a new expanded Early Years Family Resource Centre in under two months at the Estevan Comprehensive School.

It won't be a full-time daycare facility, but it will provide many options for early years learning, care and development for kids ages zero to five from the Estevan area at no charge, and that's huge too.

Besides, it all is just the beginning of a long story, as Saskatchewan is aiming at allocating 28,000 spaces over the next five years. The hope and the nearest plan is to reduce the cost of childcare by 50 per cent by the end of 2022.

The decent and accessible childcare system will allow parents to make decisions better correlating with their wishes and real needs, thus potentially instantly enriching the labour market and also making people happier. The plans to create the system with lower cost childcare, according to the feds, could add as many as 240,000 workers to the workforce and increase per capita GDP by as much as 1.2 per cent.

It will also allow for more kids to have an early start in education and further progress in life, also affecting the future potential of the region and the country.

The $10-a-day childcare definitely made for a great campaign slogan for Liberals ahead of the 2021 election. But if the feds fail to follow through with this promise, it may as well turn into a pretty bad curse, as the hopes for a better system are up high now.

And while it's too early to say if we are going to get to where we want to be in a set timeframe, it's good to see substantial and consistent steps being made in that direction.