N.B. child care fee reduction won't apply to school-aged children

WATCH: New Brunswick is reducing child care fees by 50 per cent, but as prices drop for preschool children there are some questions around fees for school-aged children. Parents and providers say before and after school programs can be costly and all ages need to be considered. Nathalie Sturgeon reports.

While the Province of New Brunswick is moving to reduce child care fees for preschool-aged children by 50 per cent by June 1, that reduction won’t apply to parents who use after-school programs.

On Monday, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy, alongside federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Karina Gould, announced the reduction six months ahead of schedule.

It said on average it would reduce child care fees for preschool-aged children to $12.82 from $25.21.

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Ainsley Congdon is a mother of two school-aged children: one child is in Grade 1 and the other is in Grade 3. She and her husband both work full-time outside of the home, so after-school programs are critical to their day-to-day life.

On April 1, Congdon was informed her rates went up by $20, or in total $100 per child, per week. It is something she said she can afford because theirs is a two-income household but she is disappointed that the reduction announced Monday didn’t extend to school-aged children.

In total, she pays $800 a month for after-school child care, she says.

“It’s just disappointing to hear that the announcement does not cover after-school care which is what we’re currently paying for,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

Daycare operator Katherine Pinet says while the announcement is good news, especially with the acceleration timeline, school-aged children are being left behind.

Pinet operates Garderie Le Royaume in Dieppe, a licensed child care facility and early learning centre.

“Initially, we were told that we were going to see a reduction in child care fees by the end of December 2022, and with the announcement yesterday that moving forward to June 1st, it’s quite exciting. It should be good,” she said.

She said subsidies for after-school programs have not changed in the last five to six years and are lower than those provided to preschool-aged children.

Pinet said those operating after-school programs are often doing so without any government funding.

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“For those who have school-aged children, it’s not an additional financial burden as much as it is insulting,” she said. “It’s something, that to them, they don’t quite understand: ‘how come our children are not valued as much.’”

She said she isn’t sure why funding isn’t provided when children age and the associated financial burden only grows.

“Why bother valuing zero to five if we immediately pull out when they go to school? It’s counterproductive,” she said. “We should be valuing these children up to age 12.”

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development confirmed the reductions do not apply to after-school programming and didn’t say when or if those reductions would apply to after-school programs.

“We will continue to have conversations with operators of after-school programs to see how we can collaborate to support parents moving forward,” the department said in an email statement.

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