By committing to building a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care with a federal investment of $30 billion over five years, the federal government is making history with its 2021 budget.
The plan would use that investment to reduce parent fees to $10 a day (within five years) would make make early learning and child care programs accessible, affordable and inclusive across Canada.
Child Care Now Executive Director Morna Ballantyne says publicly funding the operation of regulated services is the way to build the universal, quality systems — in all regions of Canada — families need for a better, fairer and faster economic recovery.
The plan, as outlined in the April 19 federal budget, commits to:
- increase federal funding for early learning and child care to $4.1 billion in 2021-22 and to $9.2 billion annually by 2025-26.
- expand the not-for-profit sector of the system,
- enshrine the government’s commitment to a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care in federal legislation to be tabled this fall.
- new investments for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care and
- provide $29.2 million over the next two years to improve physical accessibility to licensed child care centres across Canada.
Ballantyne said the plan is ambitious but also sensible because it recognizes the importance of forging collaboration with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners.
“The federal government is offering to pay a major portion of the cost of building an early learning and child care system, to use the money effectively and in accordance with what we know about how to improve quality, accessibility and affordability, and to stick with the project over the long-term by increasing investments each year,” she said. “And, we will finally get the federal early learning and child care legislation first proposed fifty years ago.”
Ballantyne said provincial and territorial governments will be hard pressed to turn away from the initiative, especially since each has stated repeatedly through the pandemic that child care is essential to their own economies.