Government of Canada introduces historic bill to enshrine principles of Canada‑wide early learning and child care system into law

GATINEAU, QC, Dec. 8, 2022 /CNW/ - Affordable and inclusive early learning and child care is a powerful driver of economic growth and social equality. That's why the Government of Canada is working with provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples to build an affordable, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care system for families in Canada. Now, the Government is taking another significant step forward by ensuring the system remains in place long into the future so that generations of children in Canada can get the best possible start in life.

Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, introduced an Act to respecting early learning and child care in Canada in parliament.  If passed, the bill would enshrine the principles of a Canada-wide early learning and child care system into federal law. This bill marks an historic milestone in the Government's commitment to ensuring families in Canada have enduring access to affordable, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care. This includes a commitment to maintain long-term federal funding for provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples to support the provision of early learning and child care under a Canada-wide system.

Bill C-35 builds upon the vision and principles of the federal/provincial/territorial Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, as well as the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that was co‑developed and endorsed by Indigenous leadership and the Government of Canada. If passed, the bill would respect provincial and territorial jurisdiction and Indigenous rights, including the right to self‑determination.

In addition to establishing a permanent, legislated commitment to federal funding for early learning and child care, Bill C-35, if passed, would require the federal government to report to the public on federal investments and progress being made on the Canada-wide system. It would also enshrine in law the National Advisory Council on Early Learning and Child Care. The role of this recently announced council is to provide third-party expert advice to the Government of Canada and serve as a forum for engagement on issues and challenges facing the early learning and child care sector.

Quote

"Our affordable child care plan is helping to grow the economy, allowing more women to enter the workforce, and helping to give children in Canada the best start in life. We want to ensure that future generations of families across Canada can count on the progress we've achieved so far. Introducing this bill is an important step toward making this system a lasting federal commitment, including sustained long-term funding for provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples." 
– Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould

Quick Facts

  • Bill C-35 builds on the collaborative work undertaken with provinces and territories under the federal/provincial/territorial Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, and with Indigenous peoples under the co‑developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that was endorsed by Indigenous leadership and the Government of Canada. The Government recognizes that First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families are best supported by early learning and child care programs and services that are culturally appropriate and led by Indigenous peoples.

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada has delivered real results to make life more affordable from coast to coast to coast through an historic investment in Budget 2021. The investment, totalling up to $30 billion over five years, is building a Canada-wide early learning and child care system in collaboration with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners. To date, as a result of these investments, fees for regulated child care have been reduced across Canada, and by 2025–26, fees for regulated child care across Canada will be $10 a day, on average.

  • The National Advisory Council on Early Learning and Child Care brings together a committed and diverse group of 16 members, including academics and advocates, practitioners and caregivers.

  • Investments in early learning and child care will ultimately benefit all Canadians. Studies show that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, the broader economy receives between $1.50 and $2.80 in return.

Associated Links

Toward $10-a-Day: Early Learning and Child Care
Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care
Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework
Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework
Engagement on Federal Early Learning and Child Care Legislation: What We Heard Report
National Advisory Council on Early Learning and Child Care

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Backgrounder

Bill C-35, the proposed Act to respecting early learning and child care in Canada, was introduced in the House of Commons on December 8, 2022.

The proposed Act to respecting early learning and child care in Canada would:

  • reinforce the Government's long-term commitment to early learning and child care by articulating the federal goal, vision, and principles for a Canada‑wide system;

  • enshrine the Government of Canada's commitment to sustained and ongoing funding for provinces, territories, and Indigenous peoples;

  • enhance accountability through federal public reporting on progress towards an early learning and child care system; and

  • establish in law the National Advisory Council on Early Learning and Child Care, which would provide advice to the Government of Canada and serve as a forum for engagement on issues and challenges facing the early learning and child care sector.

Relationships with provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples

The proposed Act would fully respect provincial and territorial jurisdiction, and Indigenous rights, including the right to self-determination, while recognizing that the federal government has a role to play in setting guiding federal principles and in providing financial support. The proposed Act would not impose any conditions or requirements upon provincial and territorial governments, or Indigenous peoples. That said, provinces, territories, and Indigenous organizations and governing bodies would benefit from the greater predictability and assurance of a federal commitment to early learning and child care.

If passed, the bill would complement, not replace, ongoing collaboration with and sustained long-term funding for provinces, territories, and Indigenous peoples, building on the federal-provincial-territorial Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, the co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework, and associated agreements. It would demonstrate a commitment to ongoing federal support with respect to achieving the vision of a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.

Enhancing accountability and transparency

The proposed Act would include a requirement that the Minister report to the public on an annual basis on federal investments and the progress being made under a Canada-wide system. Significant funding is being invested to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system and it is important to ensure that provinces, territories, and Indigenous peoples, and families across Canada have transparent and timely access to the information they need to assess and understand the progress being made toward creating and maintaining a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.

If passed, the bill would focus on federal commitments and accountability. Reporting requirements on provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples would continue to be collaboratively negotiated and articulated within the bilateral agreements with provinces and territories and within funding agreements with Indigenous partners.

Federal vision for a Canada-wide system

Through the 2020 Fall Economic Statement and Budget 2021, the Government has made significant investments to help build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system: more than $30 billion over five years when Indigenous early learning and child care is included. If it becomes law, the Act would reinforce the Government of Canada's intentions by committing to maintain sustained, long‑term federal funding for early learning and child care in law, helping to ensure stability for the Canada-wide vision.

The federal goal for a Canada-wide early learning and child care system is for all families - no matter their socio‑economic standing or racial identity, whether their child has a disability or needs enhanced or individual support, or where they live in Canada – to have access to community‑based high‑quality, affordable and inclusive early learning and child care.

A Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System

The Government of Canada made a transformative investment of over $27 billion over five years as part of Budget 2021 to build a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system with provinces and territories. Combined with other investments, including in Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care, up to $30 billion over five years will be provided in support of early learning and child care. Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, this means that as of 2025-2026, a minimum of $9.2 billion will be provided every year—permanently.

This investment allows governments to work together towards achieving an average parent fee of $10-a-day by March 2026 for all licensed child care spaces, starting with a 50 percent reduction in average fees for regulated early learning and child care spaces by the end of 2022.

As of December 2022, every province and territory has achieved significant reductions in fees for regulated child care to families—with six of them having already confirmed a reduction in average fees of 50 percent or more. In the case of Nunavut, Yukon, and Quebec, families are already enjoying average child care fees of $10-a-day or less; Yukon and Quebec having achieved that before Canada-wide agreements were signed. Additionally, provinces and territories have announced the creation of more than 30,000 new child care spaces since the first agreement was signed. Further, several provinces and territories have used federal funding to increase supports for early childhood education workers and staff, who are at the heart of the Canada-wide system.

SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

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