Little Crèche on the Prairies

An examination of the current state of child day care policy in the prairie provinces.
Published on May 6, 2009

Executive Summary

• Child care policy remains a key federal and provincial issue, with many advocacy groups demanding greater access to subsidized spaces in provincially-regulated centres.

• Across the Prairies, there is a wide diversity in child care policies and coverage. In particular, the treatment of for-profit child care centres varies considerably.

• Manitoba provides coverage near the national rate. However, it actively discourages for-profit daycare by denying new centres access to provincial grants. This has led to complaints that the child care sector is slow to respond to increased demand.

• Saskatchewan has the lowest level of child care coverage in Canada. This is because
the province has virtually eliminated its for-profit sector via official policies and unofficial practices that deny government child care funding to entrepreneurial centres.

• Alberta has a flourishing daycare sector with strong participation by both for-profit and non-profit centres. It has a long tradition of equal treatment of both ownership models. Alberta also boasts the widest variety of options for parents.

• Considering recent population changes across the three Prairie provinces, Alberta has been best able to respond to increased demand for regulated child care.

• Comparisons of the effi ciency of government subsidies in creating new regulated child care spaces reveal that Alberta is twice as efficient as Manitoba and three times as efficient as Saskatchewan in meeting new demand.

• Quality concerns regarding for-profit centres are largely misplaced and/or the product of discriminatory funding practices. Both for-profit and non-profit centres face identical
licensing requirements. And where non-profit and for-profit centres have equal access to government funding, there is little debate over quality differences.

• Lobby group angst regarding a “Big Box Child Care Invasion” of Canada by ABC Child Care Ltd. is entirely unfounded. The Australian company collapsed in late 2008 following the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown and no longer exists in its former state. Focus on this issue distracts from
the important contributions made in this country by Canadian entrepreneurial child care operators.

View as a PDF (19 pages) – 

Policy Series 58 2009Apr Little Creche on the Prairies

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