Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to Announce the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with Yukon


July 23, 2021 - Department of Finance Canada

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Hello everyone.

Thank you, Ahmed, for that introduction. Ahmed and I work closely together on a number of issues and we have been working closely on early learning and child care. In fact, from before the budget was tabled, it was our close work together on the budget that got us to make this ambitious commitment.

I really want to thank you Larry. It was very nice to hear you saying at the beginning that Ahmed has been visiting you often, and that I have been accessible, too. If there has been a lot of ministerial attention to Yukon—and I think there has—it is first and foremost because of you, Larry, and your hard work in Parliament and in caucus and really, your outstanding advocacy for your community.

I really wish I could be with you in Whitehorse. At least by Northern standards, my hometown of Peace River is not that far away from you, and I have many precious childhood memories of visits to Whitehorse. I hope to get there again soon. But instead, I am joining virtually from Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I have been making other announcements.

COVID-19 has exposed something women have long known: Without child care, parents—usually mothers—can’t work. The closing of our schools and child care centres drove women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in over two decades.

Early learning and child care has long been a feminist issue. COVID has shown us all that it is also an urgent economic issue.

In our April budget, the federal government committed up to $30 billion over five years, with $9.2 billion annually in permanent funding after that, to make this long-held dream of a universal, high-quality and accessible early learning and child care system across Canada a reality. We committed to work collaboratively, in partnership, with provinces and territories to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system. We committed to building a system that gives all young families access to affordable, inclusive, flexible, high-quality child care.

This policy on early learning and child care is so important for me as Finance Minister because it delivers a jobs-and-growth hat trick:

  • By allowing both mothers and fathers to work, it increases labour force participation and that helps our economy to grow;
  • It creates good, high-quality well-paid jobs for early learning and child care educators, who are mostly women; and
  • This system is going to help us together raise an outstanding generation of smarter, better educated Canadian children who are all going to get the best possible start in life.

As Larry said, this social infrastructure is as essential as physical infrastructure. An early learning and child care centre is as important for the economic health and prosperity of a community as a bridge or a road is. This is feminist economic policy. This is smart economic policy.

On budget day, I made a promise to Canadians that as your Finance Minister, and as a working mother, I would work together with my colleagues to get this done.

I am so proud, today, to be announcing that the federal government has reached a landmark agreement with the Government of Yukon to deliver affordable, high-quality child care for Yukon families.

Through this agreement, the Government of Canada will contribute nearly $42 million over five years to build on Yukon’s own, exceptional, efforts to deliver an average of $10 a day child care to families with children under age 6.

Our governments will work together to rapidly expand access to quality, affordable, flexible, and inclusive early learning and child care programs.

This funding will create 110 new regulated early learning and child care spaces within five years.

This funding will also support and grow a skilled workforce of early learning and child care educators. It will give them opportunities for professional development and support a minimum wage of nearly $30 an hour for early learning and child care educators—the highest minimum wage for early childhood educators in the country.

We have also committed to work collaboratively with Yukon First Nations to ensure that Indigenous children will have access to affordable, high-quality and culturally appropriate early learning and child care. 

I could not be prouder of the collaborative work we have done already, to deliver this transformative support to families across Canada. Yukon today becomes the third jurisdiction, following British Columbia and Nova Scotia, to take an incredible step forward for a universal child care system in Canada. I am looking forward to being able to speak about agreements with more provinces and territories soon.

Ahmed is working very hard, and I really want to thank Minister Hussen for all his work to make today’s announcement happen.

I want to thank Premier Silver for being a leader on this issue, for working so personally to make this agreement possible. I really want to recognize that early learning and child care is a priority for you and for your government.

As Ahmed said, your leadership—Yukon’s leadership on this issue—really allowed the federal government to be even more ambitious to support the work you are doing in Yukon and to be ambitious for the whole country. Of course, Minister McLean, I would like to recognize the hard work you have been doing on this issue.

It is just great to be here virtually with all of you and most importantly to be announcing this agreement that is going to help so many Yukon families and so many little Yukoners.

Thank you.

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