Calgary’s child care part 1: The price women pay for affordable daycare

With Alberta’s current child-care programs, many parents have to make the tough choice to spend thousands on child care while pursuing their careers or stay at home with the kids.

By Krista Sylvester | August 10, 2021 |7:00 am

Jaimie Dachy and her husband each had well-paying careers, but ultimately it was just cheaper and easier for her to quit her job and stay home with her two kids.

Photo: Submitted by Jaimie Dachy

It’s no secret that affordable daycare is an issue in our province, one that many parents are struggling with. 

There’s been a lot of debate in the news lately about the lack of affordable options, especially as Albertans watch as other provinces, including BC and Nova Scotia, gain access to federal funding to implement $10/day child-care programs. 

Not only has the UCP not utilized that yet, but in 2020 they also scrapped the $25 a day program that was instilled by the NDP. Child care in Calgary currently ranges from $900 to $1,200 a month. Infant care can run as high as $1,700 a month.

Instead, Albertans with a household income up to $90,000 will be eligible for child care subsidies starting Sept. 1, up from the previous threshold of $75,000. The UCP is injecting $45 million towards child care subsidies.  

Many Alberta families say that’s not enough, and are asking for something more in line with what the other provinces are doing.

Parents are forced to make tough choices. 

Jaimie Dachy and her husband, Rik had to make some tough decisions after having their second child. 

“When I had Tyler, I took the year off and then I went back to work in Airdrie instead of Calgary. I found a private dayhome that was $850 a month. When both parents are working, that’s reasonable,” she explains, adding they used it for three years. 

That’s when got pregnant with her second child, Jacob. 

“After I came off of maternity leave, I got an amazing job in Airdrie again. Rik was making good money, I was making good money.” 

Then things got complicated. The oldest was in school, but it still cost the family $850 a month for a dayhome, and it cost $1,200 for the one-year-old to attend daycare. 

“We were paying over $2,000 a month, and even when you’re making a great salary, it just wasn’t feasible,” she says, adding the logistics also made it difficult. 

“I had to pack lunches for both of them. And pick up and drop them off at two different locations with different hours of operation. It was a lot of stress on the family.” 

They tried that for nine months but decided it just didn’t make sense because they were spending thousands and also losing out on quality time. 

The big decision. 

Dachy had a well-paying career but so did her husband. 

“So I was like, ‘Okay, well, what are we gonna do? What’s gonna make this better?’ We weren’t spending time as a family because everything was always so rushed,” she says. 

One day, she decided she was going to quit and stay home with the kids. 

“I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I don’t see my kids. You see them for half an hour in the morning. And you’re rushing everyone out the door, and you’re picking them up, you’re trying to get home to clean up and make dinner, bathe and I was like, ‘I have no quality time with my kids.’”

She quit in 2019 — and hasn’t looked back. 

A blessing in disguise. 

“It was 100% the best decision I ever made.”

Ironically, Dachy ended up opening a dayhome and started taking in other kids, but at a more reasonable rate to help out families who were going through the same challenges. 

It even inspired Dachy to go back to school to get her education degree so she can teach, and homeschool many of them — so she’s taking online courses at night. 

“I found a passion I didn’t know I had; my mom would say ‘I told you so,’” she laughs. 

It doesn’t always work out that way. 

It may have been a blessing in disguise for Dachy, but many other parents are struggling with less positive results.  

Chamber of Commerce CEO Deborah Yedlin said the province’s announcement of $45 million funding is one step of many that will be required to move forward on child care programs that create lasting benefits to Albertans. 

“Alberta remains the youngest province in Canada and with many young children and families, the lack of quality, affordable child care options inhibit the full participation of many Albertans in the workforce,” Yedlin says. 

“Accessible, flexible and universal access to a 24-hour system of care, increased financial support for low-income parents, and training for early childhood educators are all ways we can create more economic opportunities.”

Yedlin says women have been particularly impacted by the pandemic, so advancements in child care must be an immediate priority to enable a full and sustainable economic recovery.  

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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