.... I was watching some of the discussions (bantering, badgering, arguing lol) going on in a recent sitting of the Alberta Legislature and made mental note of a few things.
The first was a mention that Alberta helps pay housing costs for about 80,000 people per month. I do not know if that means they are counting each child/person within the home, or if that means 80 thousand separate households, but knowing a vast number of people in my city who get some sort of subsidy towards housing, I'm guessing it means 80,000 separate subsidies. Okay so sit and think about that for a minute. I don't know what the full range of subsidies could be, especially in more expensive areas but I used to get between 300 and 500 a month NOT being on welfare. So let's go with $500 a month for each of those 80,000 people. That is 40 million dollars a MONTH that Alberta pays towards housing subsidies.... almost half a billion dollars a year ($480,000,000). That is one hell of a pile of money, and it is only one small part of the social care system. I am not saying the whole thing needs to be trashed, but I know SO many who are or have been abusing the system, I can't help but cringe at the amount of subsidy that is being wasted. I wish there were more measures taken in the first place to weed out system abusers - imagine how much money that could save tax payers every year.
That again made me think of childcare subsidy. It's a rocky road because I know it's very difficult for parents to afford 'quality' care, but the things I read online about it just do not jive with what I have seen personally for over 15 years, or my boss for over 20. Everything seems to vilify for-profit centers over not-for-profit centers, saying that the subsidy is 'not enough' so parents are taking their kids to private unqualified sitters, etc. I don't know what the answer is, but in that article dated 2005, it stated that the avg monthly cost of daycare in Edmonton back then was $600 and subsidy was 'only' $475 and 'not enough'. Not enough???? What the heck are families doing with their money if they cannot pay $125 a month for their child being in care for 180 hours or so? Sorry but that kind of comment drives me INSANE. And because the article said that people are going to babysitters (oh no! the horrors!), I would like to know what private sitter would want to look after a child full time for less than $125/month (based on the parent-portion for daycare in a subsidy situation). I find that people who take their child to a sitter pay far more than those who get subsidized care. Even if you only paid $2/hour that would mean almost $400 a month (based on our usual full time parents bringing their kids in about 180 hours a month)..... That article was dated 2005, but in 1998 when I was only making $6.50/hour, I was able to pay $125 a month for my son AND pay for my apartment on my own (no subsidy/aid), AND pay for my Alberta Health Care without a subsidy.... so how on earth in 2005 were parents not able to pay that same amount? Geezus that kind of thing just ticks me right off. In that article it then says that subsidy was then raised to $575. That's for an infant, it was a tad bit lower for ages 19 months to 6 years. But anyway, it just irks me to read things like this in newspapers or anywhere else for that matter.
For years in our local paper, we would read quotes from a local not-for-profit center dissing for-profit centers like mine, talking about how much better they were. I did not see a difference at all. I actually worked at that other place for 2 years before moving to the new one. We all had to follow the same regulations, dealt with the same problems, and guess what - I made the same amount of money (the article I linked to suggests that for-profit are better at keeping staff). The article talks of how when Alberta deregulated care (1999??), for-profit centers boomed and took up a large percentage of total care. That baffled me too - who cares? We all still have to follow the same rules here. The exact same inspectors come, the same fees for licenses are paid, the staff have to have the same qualifications, etc. But now with accreditation and all sorts of other govt involvement, I feel like we were not 'deregulated' at all. There is talk of making all centers have only level 2 and 3 staff (that means the 1-2 year childcare certificate or diploma), ordering them all to provide all lunches and snacks instead of some like mine who let parents choose their children's lunch (bag lunch). The list goes on. What the heck is deregulated about that? And what makes for-profit different than not-for-profit unless we are talking a huge kiddie farm. Well guess what? The largest center here by far is not-for-profit and many people I know call THAT place a kiddie farm and prefer their children to be in a for-profit center lol. But whatever === my point is, for years I have listened to the garble trying to create a distinction between the two 'types' of centers when the reality is, we all follow the same rules. Staff turnover at the not-for-profit centers in my city were just as high as for-profit. There are some very long term staff who have been there for years, but it's the same at mine. In fact I think we now have the lowest percentage in the city for staff turnover because all 4 of us have been there since the 90s lol. And just to note - two not-for-profit centers have closed in recent years because there was so much red tape and craziness to go through, and the very woman who dissed us in the local paper for so many years has now lost her job. Well I cannot say for sure if she was fired or if she quit, but a heck of a lot of people were shocked. And her center is going through a huge overhaul, a million or more dollars in DEBT.... hello? What was that about not-for-profits being better? I think we are pretty much all the same in the end. Some make it as a business and some don't. Some have great directors who are very involved in how things are going, and some don't. My director works right with us every day, has her own group of kids, but many other places do not - including the not-for-profit one I mentioned. So what the heck is the big difference anyway?
I got off track a wee bit there sorry. I was actually trying to find out how many kids are subsidized in Alberta today but I could only find a reference in the 2005 article to it being 12,000. So that means at least 7 million a month goes into this program and I have seen first hand how many people abuse that system too. Maybe our social welfare/assistance programs would not be such a thorn in peoples' sides if better management was taking place. Between childcare subsidy and housing subsidy alone, over half a billion dollars a year is swallowed up from Alberta tax payers. Think about how many other programs out there eat up a lot of cash (even at the federal level like those who are scamming to get more CCTB and GST credits), and how much could be saved by trying harder to weed out system-abusers. Maybe there would be so much money left, we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves! But no - instead a few measures get put in that mostly seem to hurt families who are being honest and truthful and just need some help for a little while, and those who abuse get to stay put.