Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Alberta is proposing new rules for child care that would include flexible oversight and availability 24 hours a day to accommodate parents who work shifts.

Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says a bill introduced in the house Wednesday follows extensive consultation with stakeholders, parents and caregivers.

The bill proposes a risk-based licensing approach. That means child-care centres with good track records would still be checked on, but more focus and resources would be placed on new ones or those that were struggling to meet standards.

“(This) means our licensing officers and their teams can spend as much time as necessary with those centres that need attention and monitoring to be compliant with regulations and also to be safe,” said Schulz.

“These changes will absolutely not compromise the safety of children and youth in child care. In fact, with risk-based licensing, enforcement will actually improve.”

Tricia Cunningham, executive director of the SIGIS Child Care Society, said licensing officers have knowledge that would be better used working with struggling centres rather than spreading that expertise around in a cookie-cutter approach.

“They’re going to be able take that energy and put it into the field and (into) the centres that need that support,” said Cunningham, who stood beside Schulz at the announcement.

The bill would also allow for availability to care 24 hours a day. Details, ratios, safety rules and policies on such around-the-clock centres have yet to be drafted, but Schulz said “we now at least have the (legislative) flexibility to step up and meet the needs of those working parents.

“This is an ask that we’ve heard again and again from communities like Fort McMurray that have a high number of young families with parents who do shift work.”

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally.

Current ratios and best practices would be maintained and accreditation would be streamlined.

“It was kind of confusing for parents,” said Schulz. “Most parents didn’t really understand or know whether their centre was licensed, regulated, accredited or approved.”

She said if the legislation passes, there will be two choices: “You are licensed or you are not. You are a licensed facililty, you are a licensed day home, or you are not.”

Opposition NDP critic Rakhi Pancholi said the bill is vague and it’s not clear if subsequent regulations will have the quality care standards that parents are seeking.

“We know to get our economic recovery back on track, parents want to have access to affordable, quality child care,” said Pancholi.

“If it’s not accessible, if it’s not affordable, if it’s not high quality, we know parents are either going to put their children in unlicensed child-care settings or they will choose to step out of the workforce.”

The province has 2,701 day cares, out-of-school care and pre-school programs accommodating more than 111,000 spaces. There are about 2,900 active licensed or approved programs.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Most Read