Hopefully, in the future, we will see some daycares in Cochrane offer $25 per day affordable childcare.

The Government of Alberta recently announced that 6000 additional childcare spaces were being added provincewide to what was the original pilot project (part of the 'Future Ready' campaign) unveiled in October 2016 to offer Albertans affordable childcare.

While one centre in both Canmore and Banff will be offering the reduced rate, there are no childcare centres in Cochrane currently on the list.

Banff- Cochrane, MLA Cameron Westhead shares the Alberta government would love to eventually see all childcare facilities charging this rate. With so many women having to make the difficult choice whether returning to work is viable, Westhead feels by offering $25 per day daycare, many women will have an easier choice. "Most often it's women that are faced with the choice of whether it's worth it to go back to work because childcare has traditionally been so expensive and so this helps them makes that choice easier if they do want to go back into the workforce sooner this provides a more affordable option."

Not only will it keep money in Alberta families pockets but centres are mandated to deliver high-quality care. "It comes with an early learning curriculum because we know that young people have very impressionable brains and a lot of the development that occurs happens at a young age. So when we make investments like this when children are young it helps ensure that they get the best start possible in life."

There are no income restrictions placed on parents, all Albertans are able to access $25 daycare as long as spaces are available, states Westhead. "Ever since we started the pilot project it never had a means test apply to the affordable rates. The reason being is we wanted to sort of see what a universal affordable childcare system would look like; no matter how much money you make it's still expensive to raise kids and it's also about the quality of the curriculum they get."

While it is imagined that additional childcare spaces will be added in the future, no dates have been announced. Westhead shares ideally the government would like to see every childcare space province-wide be only $25 a day.   "Everyone deserves help with raising children, we have the goal of making this program a lot bigger so everyone can participate."

As we approach 2019's provincial election, Westhead, says this is one more thing Albertans should consider when they head to the polls. "The UCP and opposition has called our childcare program a waste and Jason Kenney has been on the record in the past as saying he thinks there should be a parent at home and that childcare is a program designed to achieve social outcomes...basically brainwashing children. So as the election draws closer I think people ought to ask the UCP for an explanation of what they would propose to do if they cut funding for this essential thing given their ideological oppositions and their desire to cut services at the expense of families."

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