Childcare Workers Preparing To Lose Northern Living Allowance, Wood Buffalo Council Lobbying Against Cut

Childcare workers across Wood Buffalo are set to lose their northern living allowance.

The provincial government is ending the grant as more families have been able to access the service in recent years.

Early Childhood Educator Hope Moffatt tells Mix News removing the allowance will eliminate all the progress that’s been made.

She says the already high cost for families, around $1,300 per month on average, will increase.

“That’s already high, imagine getting another two hundred to three hundred dollars tacked on. If centres don’t do that, educators simply can’t afford to continue to work there… they can’t live on their wage.”

According to Janet Huffman, childcare advocate, these workers make on average between $15 to $18 an hour. The reason many were able to stay in the region was the grant which up to $1,040 a month.

Along with staff, kids could also be heavily impacted.

“If you have 55 children and you have approximately 20 staff, if you lose four of those staff you can’t take your 55 children anymore, you’re going to be down to probably 40 children,” added Huffman.

The amount of kids one worker can look after depends on the age.

If a child is up to 12 months old a childcare professional can help three kids, while they can oversee as much as eight if they’re between the ages of three to five.

The allowance will stop being handed out on June 30, 2020.

Protesting Government’s Decision

Childcare workers and families took to the street on Tuesday to protest the decision to cut the northern allowance.

They met outside of the office of Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.

Speaking to reporters, Yao says he met with some of the protesters to hear their concerns.

He adds the grant was put in when prices in town were exponentially higher. He also believes the average income across the region also played a part in the decision.

“McMurrayites, in the scheme of things, tend to make more per household and that can work for us when we’re trying to attract people to come here but that can also work against us when we’re trying to argue against government cuts.”

Yao also noted other communities in the province have exceeded the region’s average price for childcare.

“Unfortunately, some people in Fort McMurray will have to increase their rates. There are other daycares that didn’t have the subsidy and they’re continuing on, so there are options.”

Laila Goodridge, MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, also met with protesters.

Council Lobbying Provincial Government

Wood Buffalo council will be lobbying the province to keep the allowance.

Mayor Don Scott brought forward the motion at their Tuesday meeting, getting full support from his council members.

He says this will impact many across the region.

“It’s going to affect employees, it’s going to affect the opening of the facilities themselves, so government’s need to listen.”

Scott also believes the region as a whole will be impacted.

Members of council will be in Edmonton next week where they hope to speak with Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s Minister of Children’s Services.

Beforehand, they plan on reaching out to Yao and Goodridge to try and find a solution.

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