On March 6, 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that licensed child care fees would be reduced to $10 per day by April 1, 2023, three years ahead of the schedule agreed upon in the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care agreement. Child Care Now Saskatchewan applauds this announcement and recognizes the positive impact that this will have for families who have access to a licensed child care space.
“The Government of Saskatchewan notes that these parent fee reductions will save families $395 to $573 per month for each child under six from what they were paying only two years ago. With high inflation, as well as increasing child poverty rates, this is welcome news,” says Sue Delanoy, Chair of Child Care Now Saskatchewan. “While these fee reductions are drastically impactful, they are impactful only to families who have access to a licensed child care space. We do not have enough licensed spaces for even 20% of the children in this province. This is turning into a very serious situation of the haves and the have-nots,” she adds.
Advocates across Saskatchewan have been calling for a clear workforce strategy from the government for years. “If Saskatchewan is serious about providing affordable licensed child care to every family who desires a space, it cannot be done without a workforce strategy that properly addresses compensation, benefits, pensions, and working conditions of all those who work in child care. We have a serious recruitment and retention crisis,” Delanoy says.
The current workforce crisis has seen educators and other staff leave the child care sector in droves, opting for positions with better compensation and working conditions. This has left many child care centres unable to even operate at the capacity they are licensed for. In rural areas, this is further exacerbated, due to lack of available and/or affordable housing.
“We all depend on someone who depends on child care. In order for Saskatchewan’s economy to flourish, for women in this province to have equity, we need quality, accessible, affordable, and high quality child care. The province has made great strides for affordability; now, we must tackle access by developing a workforce strategy that will ensure people aspire to work in the child care sector and remain once employed within it,” Delanoy says.