A CANADA-WIDE EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE SYSTEM

About

Reference number:
HussJan2021-002
Date received:
2020-09-24
Organization:
Employment and Social Development Canada
Name of Minister:
Hussen, Ahmed (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Issue/Question:

Canadians need more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high quality Child care

Suggested Response:

• Canadians need more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high quality childcare.

• Recognizing the urgency of this challenge, our government will make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.

• Our government will build on previous investments, learn from the model that already exists in Quebec, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure that high-quality care is accessible to all parents and families.

• Our government also remains committed to subsidizing before- and after-school program costs. With the way that this pandemic has affected parents and families, flexible care options for primary school children are more important than ever.

Background:

Early Learning and Child Care:

The Government of Canada committed $7.5 billion over 11 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country. This includes $5.5 billion to provinces and territories to support early learning and child care, guided by the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, which was agreed with provinces and territories in 2017. Since the first agreements with provinces and territories were signed in 2017, a significant amount of work has been undertaken across the country, and the target of 40,000 affordable child care spaces has been largely achieved prior to the pandemic.

Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care:

On September 17, 2018 the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council jointly released the co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework aimed at strengthening early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families. In support of the Indigenous ELCC Framework, the Government of Canada is investing $1.7 billion over 10 years to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families starting in 2018-19.

The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and its corresponding investments complement Provincial and Territorial programming and funding under the Multilateral ELCC Framework and create opportunities for Indigenous communities to partner with Provinces and Territories where desired.

Progress on Extensions of Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreements

Negotiations with provinces and territories on the 2020-2021 Early Learning and Child Care Agreements are progressing well. To date, agreements with Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon and Nunavut have been finalized and signed.

A Canada-wide early learning and child care system
Despite recent federal investments in early learning and child care, affordability remains a concern for many low- and middle-income families. On average, Canadian parents pay nearly $11,500 per child per year for regulated child care. In Toronto, parent fees can reach $20,000 per child per year.

As part of the ongoing economic recovery response, the Government has signaled its intention to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system that provides high-quality early learning and child care that is accessible to all.
High quality care accessible to all has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life of tens of thousands of low- and middle-income Canadian families currently struggling with high parent fees.

Additional Information:

• The federal government has made investments to support Canadian children and families by creating more high-quality, affordable child care across the country, particularly for families more in need. Our target of creating up to 40,000 affordable child care spaces by 2020 was largely achieved prior to Covid. To support this, we invested $7.5 billion over 11 years, starting in 2016-17, in Early Learning and Child Care in partnership with Provinces and Territories. This also includes $1.7 billion over 10 years to Indigenous governments and communities for culturally appropriate Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care.

• We have also ensured emergency pandemic support of $625 million was provided to Provinces and Territories for the child care sector through the Safe Restart Agreements and we also invested $400 million in the extension of the Early Learning and Child Care bilateral agreements. This represents a total of almost $1.2 billion of federal funding to support early learning and child care in 2020-21 alone.

• However, for many parents and families, child care remains unaffordable, leaving parents to choose between work and caring for children.

• Recognizing the urgency of these challenges, the Government has committed to make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system and to subsidize before- and after-school program costs for primary school children.

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