Supporters of NDP candidate Steve Durrell streamed in and out of his newly opened campaign headquarters yesterday.

Located upstairs in the Sheridan Mall on 1st Ave., next to the RBC, the headquarters will now be open daily 12 noon to 8 p.m. and intermittent hours in the morning leading up to the Apr. 16 provincial election. 

"I'm pretty excited. We've got a massive list of volunteers and I'm really happy with the groundswell of support that we have received," says Durrell.

The open house was very much a drop-in event. Some supporters arrived briefly then left with signs to hit the campaign trail.

"People are motivated. They want to be out there knocking on doors and talking with constituents."

While plans are being finalized for election forums throughout the riding, talking to people one-on-one remains key to any campaign.

"The biggest part of the campaign is talking to people individually," says Durrell. "Forums are good for getting your message out, but when you're at the doors you learn what individual people have to say and what their concerns are and that helps guide you through your campaign."

Excited About Day Care Announcement

The NDP's promise to expand its $25 child care program hits home with Durrell.

He and his wife have three children and only one is school age. With the average age being 35 in Cochrane, you can expect the proposal could also potentially impact our many young families. 

"It will be a life-changing program for many, many Albertans. I'm really excited about this one."

For many families, including Durrells, the cost of childcare has required one of the parents to abandon the idea of being in the workforce.

While the province would invest $1.5 billion into the program over five years, Durrell says it is expected to put $5.9 billion into the economy and along the way create 43,000 jobs.  

"The capital investment coming back from the program hasn't been put into the plan so it will actually boost our progress towards bringing the budget back to balance as well as meaning that people will have more money in their pockets because of the reduction in child care costs and will allow more people to return to the workforce."

The child care plan was introduced as a pilot project by the government two years ago. Currently, none are located in Cochrane.

The Alberta Association of Child Care Operators (AACCO) has expressed concern over the impact of the plan on existing private daycares and has been seeking clarification on whether nonprofit centres would be given priority over private centres in the transition. They say some private daycares have struggled after multiple $25-a-day centres were established nearby.

"Our concern is that by the time it is their turn to transition to the $25-a-day model, they may be struggling to stay open, as many currently are," says AACCO spokesperson Anita Turna. 

Additionally, they are concerned the program would be limited to children up to five with no additional support for children attending before and after school programs. 

They have called on the UCP to release their child care plan.

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