‘Free’ child care isn’t free, someone has to pay

Writer says ‘free service’ mentality has to go

Dear editor,

I read an article in the local newspaper and the person writing the article was criticizing the Government of Alberta for giving some consideration to terminating the $25/per day day care program.

The socialist NDP government, who the people of Alberta had the good sense to boot out of office, came up with this grand plan, along with many other “free” or “subsidized” programs. Under the NDP government the provincial debt grew from $12 billion in 2015 to an astonishing $71 billion in four short years. Then the NDP government rode off to become the Official Opposition and left all Albertans to pick up the tab for the debt they created. The UPC government is now left with the unpleasant task of sorting priorities and deciding what programs are essential and which ones are unsustainable.

As a woman, I worked outside the home for over 40 years so I am totally familiar with all the challenges facing working women, but I don’t understand why I should have expected other people up to pick up the cost of caring for my children.

Let us do some basic math to understand what this $25.per day program actually costs on a daily basis. Let us assume that a Child Care worker makes the minimum wage of $15 per hour and that worker works 8 hours per day, so that individual’s daily wage is $120 per day. In addition to staff salaries there are many other expenses that are incurred when running a Day Care – rent, heating, maintenance, food etc. If the individual taking their child to a day care is only paying $25. per day, who is paying for the other additional costs? That would be the taxpayers of Alberta.

Our former MLA devoted almost an entire page in the local newspaper telling us about all the free stuff the NDP government was giving us, now we are stuck with the bill for all that “free stuff”. The interest rate on the debt that the NDP accumulated is $3 billion annually. That is money that could be spent on all kinds of services and programs that are valuable to individuals; instead it has to be used to pay interest.

However, responsible governments strategize on how to reduce debt while making difficult decisions about which services to continue and which ones to curtail or end entirely. These are not easy decisions to make, but basically it comes down to this – either the government figures out how to pay down the debt now, or they can kick it down the road and at some time in the near future we can expect both reduced services and increased taxes. It is a case of pay now or pay later.

Marcia Stymiest, Wetaskiwin

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