Canada – British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement - 2020-2021

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Between:

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada (hereinafter referred to as “Canada” or “Government of Canada”) as represented by the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada styled as the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (herein referred to as “the federal Minister”)

And

Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province/Territory of British Columbia (hereinafter referred to as “ British Columbia” or “Government of British Columbia ”) as represented by the Minister of Children and Family Development (herein referred to as “the Provincial Minister”)

Referred to collectively as the “Parties”

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and British Columbia agreed to the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework which articulates their shared vision for early learning and child care (ELCC) and describes their approach to achieve this vision;

Whereas, Canada and British Columbia have committed to work together to further develop child care, in full respect of their responsibilities to their residents, and recognizing that the Government of British Columbia has the primary responsibility for the design and delivery of early learning and child care programs and services in British Columbia;

Whereas, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act authorizes the federal Minister to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories, for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of any program or policy within the mandate of the federal Minister;

Whereas, the Child Care BC Act authorizes the Provincial Minister to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada respecting financial arrangements or other matters relating to the Child Care BC Act and the Child Care Subsidy Act authorizes the Provincial Minister to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada respecting financial arrangements or other matters relating to child care subsidies;

Whereas, Canada has, pursuant to its Policy on Transfer Payments, established a transfer payment program to provide funds to the provincial and territorial governments for the development and delivery of regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under six years of age, with consideration for families more in need;

Whereas, Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council jointly released the co-developed Indigenous ELCC Framework in September 2018. This Framework establishes overarching principles and sets a vision for happy and safe Indigenous children and families, strong cultural identity, and a comprehensive and coordinated system that is anchored in self-determination, centered on children and grounded in culture. The Indigenous ELCC Framework can be used as a guide for all actors involved in Indigenous ELCC;

Whereas, early learning and child care investments made by British Columbia may also support Indigenous children and families that reside within British Columbia;

Whereas, in accordance with section 3.0 of the Agreement signed in 2018,Canada and British Columbia wish to renew the Agreement for a period of one year commencing April 1st, 2020 and ending March 31, 2021, on the same terms and conditions as in the Agreement, save and except for amendments as provided herein;

Whereas, intentions to renew the Agreement were stated in writing and negotiations had commenced prior to the expiry of the Agreement;

Whereas, Canada and British Columbia will continue to work together towards a renewed Canada-British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement; and

Whereas Canada and British Columbia further agree to amend the Agreement.

Now therefore, Canada and British Columbia agree as follows:

1.0 Vision of Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and British Columbia agree that the long term vision, principles and objectives for early learning and child care, which are set out in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework that is attached as an annex (Annex 1), will guide the investment of funds provided under this Agreement.

2.0 Early Learning and Child Care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Canada and British Columbia agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, British Columbia will further build its early learning and child care system by addressing local, regional and system priorities that have an impact on families more in need by increasing the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, towards achieving the objectives of:

  1. enhancing the accessibility of child care options by increasing the number of spaces
  2. increasing affordability of child care, beginning with infant/toddler care
  3. enhancing the quality of licensed child care programs by supporting the training and professional development of early childhood educators; and
  4. enhancing equity through targeted investment in underserved communities – Indigenous families, families with children with special needs, and young parents completing their secondary education – improving access to inclusive, affordable, and flexible child care programs

British Columbia’s approach to achieving these objectives is set out in their Action Plan attached as Annex 2.

2.2 Eligible areas of investment

2.2.1 British Columbia agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under the age of six where:

  1. regulated programs and services are defined as those that meet standards that are established and/or monitored by provincial/territorial governments
  2. Early learning and child care programs and services are defined as those supporting direct care and early learning for children in settings including, but not limited to, regulated child care centres, regulated family child care homes, early learning centres, preschools and nursery schools

2.2.2 In developing and delivering its early learning and child care programs and services, British Columbia agrees to take into account the needs of French-speaking communities.

2.2.3 Types of investments include: capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care, fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for people who work in the early learning and child care field, quality assurance, parents’ information and referral, and/or administration costs incurred by British Columbia in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 British Columbia also agrees to develop, promote, define, and deliver identifiable innovative approaches to enhance the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care systems, with consideration for those more in need.

2.2.5 Canada and British Columbia agree that funding will be targeted toward programs and activities, as described above, for children under the age of six, that will have an impact on families more in need such as lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities. Needs include having limited or no access to early learning and child care programs and services in the children’s official language.

2.2.6 In 2020-2021, under extraordinary circumstances, British Columbia may allocate funding under this Agreement to support short-term measures to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on British Columbia’s ELCC system. These measures must be aligned with the principles of the Multilateral ELCC Framework and be used to sustain ELCC programs and services.

3.0 Period of agreement

3.1 The Agreement came into effect on February 23rd, 2018 and remained in effect until March 31, 2020. Funding provided under the Agreement, in accordance with section 4, covered the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020. Amendments to renew the Agreement shall come into effect upon the last signature being affixed and will remain in effect until March 31, 2021, unless terminated in writing by Canada or British Columbia in accordance with the terms hereof in section 11. Funding provided under this renewed Agreement, in accordance with section 4, will cover the period from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

3.2 Renewal of Bilateral Agreements

3.2.1 Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2021-2022 to 2027-2028 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement. Funding for future years will be provided upon the renewal of bilateral agreements conditional on Canada’s acceptance of new action plans and informed by the assessment of the results achieved under the action plan set out in Annex 2.

3.2.2 The renewal will provide British Columbia and Canada the opportunity to review priorities and, if required, realign new priorities in future bilateral agreements based on progress made to date.

3.2.3 In the event this bilateral agreement is renewed in accordance with the terms of section 3.2.1, British Columbia may continue to use funding provided thereunder to cover the same eligible areas of investment as those covered through funding received for the period 2017-2021 subject to the terms and conditions of that renewed agreement.

4.0 Financial provisions

4.1 These contributions are in addition and not in lieu of those that Canada currently pays to British Columbia through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within British Columbia.

4.2 Allocation to British Columbia

4.2.1 Canada has designated the following maximum amounts to be paid in total to all provinces and territories under this initiative with a fixed base rate of $2 million per year for each province and territory and the balance of the funding on a per capita basis for the period starting on April 1, 2017 and ending on March 31, 2021.

  1. $399,669,692 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2017
  2. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2018
  3. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2019
  4. $399,347,694 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2020

4.2.2 Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.3, British Columbia’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal Year Estimated amount to be paid to British Columbiaa (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $51,036,249
2018-2019 $50,993,994
2019-2020 $50,993,994
2020-2021 $52,370,013

a Amount represents annual estimate based on Statistics Canada population estimates.

Canada commits that the combined total annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2021-2022 to 2027-2028 will not decrease from the allocations contained in this current agreement under the conditions set in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3 The final total yearly amount to be paid to British Columbia will be calculated using the following formula F x K/L, where:

4.2.4 For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.3, the population of British Columbia for each Fiscal year and the total population of all provinces and territories for that Fiscal Year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the quarterly preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1 of that Fiscal Year. These estimates are released by Statistics Canada in September of each Fiscal Year.

4.3 In this Agreement, “Fiscal Year” means the period commencing on April 1 of any calendar year and terminating on March 31 of the immediately following calendar year.

4.4 Payment

Canada’s payment will be made as follows: The total payment for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be paid within 30 days after the signatures from both parties are affixed to the Agreement.

In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 the semi-annual first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each Fiscal Year. In 2020-2021, the first installment will be paid within 30 days after the signatures from both parties are affixed to the Agreement. The second installment will be paid on or about November 15 of each Fiscal Year.

The amount of the first installment will be an amount equal to 50% of the notional amount of Canada’s maximum payment to British Columbia for the Fiscal Year, which will be calculated in the manner described in sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4.

The amount of the second installment will be an amount equal to the balance of Canada’s payment to British Columbia for the Fiscal Year based on the actual amount of the payment determined under sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 for the Fiscal Year.

Canada will notify British Columbia at the beginning of the Fiscal Year of their notional amount. The notional amount will be based on the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates on July 1 of the preceding Fiscal Year. Canada will notify British Columbia of the actual increased or decreased amount of the second installment in each Fiscal Year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.3 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.4.

Canada may withhold payment of its second installment for the Fiscal Year if British Columbia has failed to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous Fiscal Year in accordance with section 5.3.2 until such time as the annual audited statement is provided.

Payment of Canada’s funding for each Fiscal Year of this Agreement is subject to an annual appropriation by the Parliament of Canada for this purpose.

4.5 Maximum annual payment in respect of administration costs

4.5.1 Canada’s payment in respect of British Columbia’s administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

In fiscal years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 an amount equal to 10% of the maximum amount payable for those Fiscal Years.

4.6 Carry Forward

4.6.1 At the request of British Columbia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, British Columbia may retain and carry forward to March 31, 2019, an amount of up to 75% of the contribution paid to British Columbia for 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by British Columbia in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2018-2019 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.2 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019 under section 4.6.1 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to British Columbia under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2018-2019.

4.6.3 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.1 must be spent by March 31, 2019. British Columbia is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2019, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada's contribution for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.6.4 At the request of British Columbia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, British Columbia may retain and carry forward to March 31, 2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to British Columbia for 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 and 4.4 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by British Columbia in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2019-2020 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.5 At the request of British Columbia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, British Columbia may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2020-2021, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to British Columbia for 2019-2020 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by British Columbia in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2020-2021 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.6 For greater certainty, the amounts carried forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 under section 4.6.4 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to British Columbia under section 4.2.3 and 4.4 of this Agreement in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

4.6.7 The amount carried forward pursuant to sections 4.6.4 and 4.6.5 must be spent by March 31 of the subsequent fiscal year. British Columbia is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31 of the subsequent fiscal year, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada's contribution for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.6.8 In the event that this renewal is approved after March 31, 2020, the parties agree that it is a renewal of the April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020 agreement from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and as such, carry forward provisions still apply.

4.7 Repayment of overpayment

4.7.1 In the event payments made to British Columbia exceed the amount to which British Columbia is entitled under the Agreement, the amount of the excess is a debt due to Canada and shall be repaid to Canada upon receipt by British Columbia of notice to do so and within the period specified in the notice.

4.7.2 In the event that the second installment payment made to British Columbia is determined to be less than the amount to which British Columbia is owed under the terms of section 4, Canada agrees to pay to British Columbia, as soon as feasible, the amount determined to be outstanding by mutual written agreement of the parties.

4.8 Use of funds

4.8.1 Canada and British Columbia agree that funds provided by Canada under this Agreement will only be used by British Columbia in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

5.0 Accountability

5.1 Action plan

5.1.1 British Columbia has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-2018 – 2019-2020 of federal funding with Canada as set out in the Canada-British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement 2017-2020. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, British Columbia will publicly release their Action Plan which:

  1. identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, based on an assessment of progress to date in the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and/or inclusivity of their early learning and child care system, with consideration for those more in need as described in section 2.2.5
  2. describes how British Columbia plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need, as described in section 2.2.5
  3. describes aspects of the planned spending for innovative initiatives
  4. demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing British Columbia early learning and child care spending
  5. outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according to their planned investments
  6. identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement
  7. may identify additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement
  8. include a description of consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.4, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback

5.1.2 British Columbia submitted an updated Action Plan for fiscal year 2020-2021, as set out in Annex 2, updating their areas of investments and targets, as necessary, outlined in its Action Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2018 to 2019-2020. This updated Action Plan may include changes to programming and program delivery provided that the more affordable child care spaces federally funded continue to be supported as much as possible, subject to extraordinary circumstances. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, the updates to this Action Plan will be publicly released.

5.1.3 The Action Plan may be amended by mutual consent of the Parties with the spirit and intent of this Agreement if deemed necessary by the Province to reflect shifts in approach necessitated by changing circumstances or priorities. Parties must mutually agree that an amended Action Plan will still meet the undertakings set out in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. British Columbia will share such amendments with Canada and release any such amendments publicly.

5.1.4 British Columbia will share with Canada the results of any consultations undertaken during the development of its Action Plan. British Columbia recognizes that consultations with parents, child care providers, experts, Indigenous peoples and other interested residents of British Columbia are important for developing and revising its Action Plan.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 British Columbia agrees to provide available baseline data on indicators set out in their Action Plan by March 31, 2018.

5.2.2 By no later than October 1 in each Fiscal Year during the Period of this Agreement, British Columbia agrees to:

  1. prepare, publish and disseminate to the public an Annual Report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and British Columbia. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement and shall include:
    1. brief description of the activities, expenditures and results of the Canada-British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement as set out in Annex 2
    2. results achieved according to the indicators and targets referred to in Annex 2
    3. as available, the impact on families more in need as described in section 2.2.5
    4. results achieved on innovation referred to in Annex 2
    5. description of any relevant consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and the relation to the priorities referred to in Annex 2; and
    6. any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the Fiscal Year, as available
  2. continue to contribute data for the publication of the joint Federal-Provincial/Territorial report on Public Investments in Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada. This shall include the number of children benefiting from subsidies, number of licensed early learning and child care spaces broken down by age of child and type of setting

5.2.3 By mutual agreement, Canada, with prior notice and the opportunity provided to review and comment, may incorporate all or any part or parts of British Columbia’s Annual Report, as described in section 5.2.2.a, into any public report that Canada or British Columbia may prepare for their own purposes, including any reports to Parliament or reports that may be made public.

5.3 Audit

5.3.1 British Columbia will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with provincial standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.3.2 By no later than October 1 of the subsequent Fiscal Year during the Period of this Agreement, British Columbia agrees to provide to Canada an audited financial statement of payments and expenses received from Canada under this Agreement during the preceding Fiscal Year.

  1. The revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year
  2. The total amount of funding used for early learning and child care programs and services under section 2.2
  3. The administration costs incurred by British Columbia in developing and administering early learning and child care programs under section 2.2.3
  4. The amount of any amount carried forward by British Columbia under section 4.6, if applicable
  5. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.7.1

5.3.3 The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the British Columbia Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of British Columbia and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 British Columbia is responsible for evaluating its early learning and child care programs. As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, British Columbia may evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement at the request of Canada and may make public the results of any such evaluations.

6.0 Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and British Columbia agree to share and release data as available, and knowledge, research and information on effective and innovative practices in early learning and child care, to further support the development of and reporting on quality and outcomes. Each party will determine the information they will share.

6.2 Canada and British Columbia agree to work together, and with stakeholders, towards the development of common quality and outcome measures that could be included in bilateral agreements in the future that could reinforce the Framework’s long-term vision.

6.3 Canada and British Columbia agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age six.

6.4 Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care investments

6.4.1 Canada and British Columbia acknowledge the mutual impact and interactions of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and the investments provided under this Agreement.

6.4.2 Canada and British Columbia agree to regular discussions regarding early learning and child care investments related to Indigenous children and families that reside within British Columbia.

7.0 Communications

7.1 Canada and British Columbia agree on the importance of communicating with the public about the objectives of this Agreement in an open, transparent, effective and proactive manner through appropriate public information activities.

7.2 Canada will receive the appropriate credit and visibility when investments financed through funds granted under this Agreement are announced to the public.

7.3 The Parties agree to give each other 10 days advance notice of intended public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 Canada and British Columbia each reserve the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and bilateral agreements.

8.0 Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and British Columbia are committed to working together and avoiding disputes through government-to-government information exchange, advance notice, early consultation, and discussion, clarification, and resolution of issues, as they arise.

8.2 If at any time either Canada or British Columbia is of the opinion that the other Party has failed to comply with any of its obligations or undertakings under this Agreement or is in breach of any term or condition of the Agreement, Canada or British Columbia, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and British Columbia will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials.

8.3 If a dispute cannot be resolved by Designated Officials within 90 days, then the dispute will be referred to the Deputy Ministers of Canada and British Columbia most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the respective Ministers of Canada and British Columbia most responsible for early learning and child care shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9.0 Equality of treatment

9.1 During the term of this Agreement, if another province or territory, except the province of Quebec, which is not part of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, negotiates and enters into an Early Learning and Child Care agreement with Canada, or negotiates and enters into an amendment to such an agreement and if, in the reasonable opinion of British Columbia, any provision of that agreement or amended agreement is more favorable to that province or territory than the terms set forth in this Agreement, Canada agrees to amend this Agreement in order to afford similar treatment to British Columbia, if requested by British Columbia. This includes any provision of the bilateral agreement except for the Financial Provisions set out under section 4.0. This amendment shall be retroactive to the date on which the Early Learning and Child Care agreement or the amendment to such an agreement with the other province or territory, as the case may be, comes into force.

9.2 Canada will make publicly available up-to-date Early Learning and Child Care agreements entered into with all provinces and territories, including any amendments, by posting them on a Government of Canada website.

10.0 Amendments to the agreement

10.1 This Agreement, including all attached annexes, except Annex 1 and Annex 3, may be amended at any time by mutual consent of the Parties. To be valid, any amendments shall be in writing and signed, in the case of Canada, by Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and in the case of British Columbia, by the provincial Minister most responsible for early learning and child care.

11.0 Termination

11.1 Either Canada or British Columbia may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by either Party by giving at least 6 months written notice of its intention to terminate.

11.2 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 11.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to British Columbia after the date of effective termination.

11.3 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 11.1 or on expiry of the Agreement in accordance with section 3.1, British Columbia shall have no obligations under this Agreement other than those outlined in sections 4.6.7 (Carry Forward), 4.7 (Repayment of Overpayment), 5.2.1 (Reporting), and 5.3.2 (Audit).

12.0 Notice

12.1 Any notice, information or document provided for under this Agreement will be effectively given if delivered or sent by letter, postage or other charges prepaid. Any notice that is delivered will have been received in delivery; and, except in periods of postal disruption, any notice mailed will be deemed to have been received eight calendar days after being mailed.

The address for notice or communication to Canada shall be:

Social Policy Directorate
140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau QC  K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to British Columbia shall be:

Po Box 9770 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC  V8W 9S5

13.0 General

13.1 This Agreement, including Annexes 1 and 2 and comprise the entire agreement entered into by the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof.

13.2 This Agreement is based on the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, Annex 1, concluded on June 12, 2017.

13.3 This Agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws of Canada and British Columbia.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of British Columbia shall be admitted to any share or part of this Agreement, or to any benefit arising therefrom.

13.5 If for any reason a provision of this Agreement that is not a fundamental term is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be or to have become invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, it will be deemed to be severable and will be deleted from this Agreement, but all the other provisions of this Agreement will continue to be valid and enforceable.

13.6 This Agreement is drafted in English at the request of the Parties. Les parties ont convenu que le présent Accord soit rédigé en anglais.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Employment and Social Development styled as the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development at Gatineau this 16th day of September, 2020.

[Signed by] The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Signed on behalf of British Columbia by the Minister of Children and Family Development at Victoria this 18th day of September, 2020.

[Signed by] The Honourable Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agree on the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children. For more details on this agreement, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: 2020-2021 British Columbia – Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbia’s ability to deliver on the initiatives outlined in the 2020-2021 Action Plan may be affected. As such, the targets may not be achieved and expenditures may differ.

This update to BC’s Action Plan invests BC’s 2020-2021 notional allocation Footnote 1 under the ELCC Framework of $52.37M to maintaining existing programs that are increasing child care affordability and enhancing equity through targeted investment in underserved communities. The following two initiatives previously included under BC’s Action Plan for 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 are not included in the 2020-2021 Action Plan:

  1. Early Care and Learning Partnerships – Capital ($13.7M budget in 2017-2018)
    1. BC partnered with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to support local governments to develop new child care spaces. An additional $4.8M was added in 2019-2020. This funding was provided to UBCM to work with local governments and provide grants of up to $1M to create new child care spaces for children ages 0-5. Through two program intakes,15 projects creating 377 new spaces have been funded by UBCM with $12.7M. Several other projects are still under review for the remaining funding, and UBCM’s final space creation numbers are not expected until later in the year. Initial program analysis indicates that the limited amount of funding available to local governments to create more expensive 0-5 spaces impacted the number of spaces participating local governments could create and likely limited local government interest in the program
  2. Young Parent Programs (YPP) ($1M budget annually in 2017-2018 to 2019-2020)
    1. This investment increased the level of available support for young parents under the Province’s Affordable Child Care Benefit. The Province has maintained the increased level of support in 2020-2021 under the provincial budget allocation for the Affordable Child Care Benefit and has re-allocated the $1M annually in federal funding to provide enhanced support to the Universal Child Care Prototype Sites initiative. As of August 2019, there were 26 facilities offering Young Parent Programs across BC. The federal investment in YPP in the 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 ELCC Agreement supported approximately 91 young parent families and 97 unique children to receive enhanced funding of $1,500/month (from the previous maximum of $1,000/month) and wrap around services including housing supports, nutrition and health education supports, counselling, transportation, and community referrals per month

British Columbia's priority areas for investment

BC's priority areas of investments under this updated Action Plan are to continue to:

  1. maintain increased affordability of child care, prioritizing facilities offering care to infants and toddlers; and
  2. maintain enhanced equity through targeted investment in underserved communities – Indigenous families and families with children with extra support needs

These investments will maintain current space numbers and levels of service throughout 2020-2021 and will not aim to increase spaces or service levels this year. This will ensure no service impacts for families currently accessing services.

The continued investments made possible by this federal partnership will not displace existing provincial funding. British Columbia will continue its current investments across the continuum of ELCC programs and services, including the provincial initiatives and priorities outlined in the Childcare BC Plan. These initiatives will continue to support the Province’s commitment to transitioning to a universal child care system that will provide affordable, accessible and quality child care to every family who wants or needs it, starting with infant and toddler programs.

Initiative Targeted improvement 2020-2021 ($M)
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Operations Affordability 31.00
Indigenous child care Underserved communities 10.00
Children with extra support needs Underserved communities 10.00
Early Childhood Educator (ECE) bursaries ECE professional development 3.84 Footnote 1
Total invested (including $2.47M in 2019-2020 carry-over) 54.84

Priority 1: Affordable Child Care

Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites

Continue to decrease child care fees through maintained operational grants to child care providers offering infant/toddler care.

Investment

2020-2021: $31MFootnote 2

Addressed pressure

Evidence shows that cities in BC have the second highest child care fees in the country, with higher median fees found only in communities in Ontario.Footnote 3

Child care fees are the highest for infants and toddlers (up to age three), reflecting the more intensive care required for younger children. In 2019-2020, the median monthly child care fees for infants and toddlers (up to 35 months old) in licensed group facilities in receipt of Child Care Operating Funding (CCOF) was over $1,000 in most regions of the province.Footnote 4

Through the Childcare BC Prototype Sites, enhanced operating funding is provided to existing child care operators, conditional on their reducing parent fees to a maximum of $200/month per child.

The mechanism

Through the Canada-BC ELCC Agreement (2017-2018 to 2019-2020), British Columbia modelled the introduction of universal child care by investing $60 million over two years to convert 53 Footnote 5 existing licensed child care facilities into Universal Child Care Prototype Sites (Prototype Sites). The priority for the program was supporting infant and toddler spaces (for example, for children under 3 years).Footnote 6 Families accessing the Prototype Sites pay a maximum of $200 per month, per child for regular full-time care. Some families receive additional support through the Province’s Affordable Child Care Benefit and pay less than $200 per month to no fee at all.

Prototype Sites include some spaces for school-age children (18%) as well some multi-age facilitiesFootnote 7 who are licensed to care for children birth to age 12 years (2%). BC received approval for these sites from the Federal Government in September 2018 and these sites continue to participate in the initiative.

With continued ELCC investment, BC will maintain an increased level of operational support for the existing Prototype Sites, totaling $31M in 2020-2021. Funding to administer low-cost spaces will continue to be provided to existing child care operators who are willing to provide low-cost care up to $200/month per child, regardless of families’ incomes. The focus of funding in 2020-2021 is on ensuring no service impacts for families accessing current Prototype Sites.

Therefore, the funding will not be used to expand the number of facilities participating in the initiative in 2020-2021. The Ministry has contracted with R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. (Malatest) to conduct an arms-length evaluation of the Prototype Sites initiative, to gather information and evidence from participating child care providers, their staff, and the families they serve to better understand the impacts of low or no cost child care for families and to inform future funding models. In Summer 2020, the Ministry will receive a final report from the evaluator, including Return on Investment/ Social Return on Investment (ROI/SROI) analysis and recommendations for future roll-out of low-cost child care.

Impacts

With an investment of $31M in 2020-2021, estimations project Prototype Sites will maintain current supports for more than 2,500 licensed child care spaces offering low- or no-cost care to approximately 2,900 children, exceeding the program’s initial target (under the 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 ELCC Agreement) of 1,768 full-time spaces.

For families, access to affordable child care is simplified by subsidizing care through the operators. Families do not need to apply to access the low-cost spaces, with fees limited to $200/month (though eligible families may apply to receive additional benefits through the provincial Affordable Child Care Benefit, further lowering their cost of care).

The current selection of the Prototype Sites reflects the diversity of B.C.’s geography, populations and parent needs, with specific consideration being given to providers that serve Indigenous families, single-parent families, families in underserved communities, and parents working non-standard hours.

Indicator of success: Impact of Universal Child Care Prototypes
Number of children with reduced costs ($10/day care) due to ELCC investments Number of children accessing no-cost child care due to combination of ELCC investment and provincial investments through BC’s Affordable Child Care Benefit Investment (2020-2021)
2,900Footnote 8 800Footnote 9 $31M
COVID-19 update

In the first quarter of 2020-2021, Prototype Sites needed to make individual decisions regarding whether to remain open or to temporarily close in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and in accordance with advice from BC’s Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control. BC adjusted funding and requirements to support the Prototype Sites during the pandemic, as follows:

The number of open and closed Prototype Sites has fluctuated over the first quarter of 2019-2020. For example, 11 sites were closed in mid-April 2020 and 41 sites remained open. By mid-July 2020, 50 Prototype Sites remain open and 2 Prototype Sites remain closed due to COVID-19. BC will include details regarding the amount of expenditures that were directed to both open and closed Prototype Sites and the number of spaces/families impacted through the annual report on progress required under this agreement.

Priority 2: Underserved Communities

Expand culturally-based Indigenous child care
Investment

2020-2021: $10M

Addressed pressure

Indigenous children make up nine per cent of the children in BC. While the overall number of Indigenous children is low, these children and their families are more likely than non-Indigenous families to face barriers in accessing child care and are more likely to live in economically vulnerable situations. For example, 6 out of 10 Indigenous children live with both parents compared to 8 out of 10 non-Indigenous children.Footnote 11 Indigenous children accounted for 7.7% of all children aged 0 to 4 years, but they accounted for more than one‑half (51.2%) of all foster children aged 0-4 years.

The Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) program provides an ideal evidence-based platform for early learning and child care programming for children aged 0-6 years and their families. Using a culturally relevant curriculum that includes language and culture, nutrition, school readiness and social supports, AHS provides wrap around family support and inclusion services at no cost to Indigenous families. AHS sites provide child care for children aged 0-3 years and from 3-5 years, as well as preschool and drop-in/outreach services; AHS spaces are not offered to children over the age of 6. The AHS model of child care that couples capital investments with on-going operational funding offers a model of Indigenous-led child care for a holistic approach with wrap around services for Indigenous families.

A $30M three-year investment was directed to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Aboriginal Head Start Association BC (AHSABC) to support the expansion of the Aboriginal Head Start Program through the 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 ELCC Agreement. Both capital and operational funding to support space creation and operations were allocated. FNHA received $3.5M per year and AHSABC received $6.5M per year from 2017-2020.

FNHA allocated funding to communities most in need based on population and current resources, and AHSABC selected communities based on demonstrated need and readiness to build and operate AHS programs. Preliminary estimates suggested that approximately 590 families would benefit from new child care spaces created through enhancements to culturally based Indigenous child care by 2019-2020. After operationalizing this funding, this target has been exceeded with 643 spaces in 31 communities created, the demand for AHS initial call for applications came from over 120 communities. A total of 480 of the 643 spaces are currently operating. FNHA operates 19 sites with 340 planned spaces and AHSABC operates 12 sites with 303 spaces throughout the province.

The focus of funding in 2020-2021 is on ensuring no service impacts for families accessing current AHS Sites. Therefore, the funding will not be used to expand the number of facilities participating in the initiative in 2020-2021.

The mechanism

British Columbia will continue directing $3.5M to FNHA and $6.5M to AHSABC to continue with the AHS services in on and off-reserve communities. FNHA and AHSABC work collaboratively to provide oversight and quality assurance, support capacity development and training in AHS sites. With continued ELCC investment, AHSABC and FNHA will provide ongoing operational funding for the existing AHS Sites, totaling $10M in 2020-2021.

Continued funding of these programs aligns with government commitments including but not limited to:

Impacts

With an investment of $10M in 2020-2021, AHS Sites will not need to re-apply for annual operating funds and will continue offering no-cost early learning and care services to Indigenous children and families. Families will continue to have access to infant/toddler, group and multi-age care, enhanced staffing to create inclusive environments and outreach family support.

The selection of the AHS Sites includes rural and remote communities, First Nations communities, Aboriginal Friendship Centres and urban organizations and Métis organizations across the province.

Indicators of success
On/off reserve Number of new programs Number of new spaces Investment (2020-2021) b
Off-reserve 12 New 303 $6.5M
On-reserve 17 New
2 Expansion
340 $3.5M
Total 31 643 $10.0M

b Approximately 7 % of funding will be used for administrative costs associated with implementation, including support for developing the MOU.

Priority 2: Underserved Communities

Maintain enhancement to Supported Child Development (SCD) Programs for children with extra support needs
Investment

2020-2021: $10M

Addressed pressure

For children with extra support needs and their families, support is often required to enable them to access beneficial programs and services at an early age. Without timely and appropriate supports, some children with extra support needs may have their potential for full development impacted. For their parents, access to inclusive alternative care options provides the extra support needed to allow them to work and/or study.

The Supported Child Development Programs (SCD) and the Aboriginal Child Development Programs (ASCD) are foundational programs that provide direct support and interventions to young children who have or are at high risk of a developmental delay or disability and their families. In BC, the current investment continues to not meet the demand, particularly given that the number of child care spaces in BC continues to grow under Childcare Plan BC initiatives.

The 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 ELCC Agreement provided an enhancement of $10M annually to SCD and ASCD programs. This funding was intended to reduce wait times for families and provide increased service. Based on an estimated average cost of $7,000/child, the $10M annual investment was anticipated to create access for 1,428 children. With the enhanced funding added to the existing provincial funding, it was anticipated that the current waitlist for SCD/ASCD would be eliminated during the three years of this agreement.

A significant limitation of the above estimate was that it did not account for children on the existing caseload who were needing an increased level of service. Families of children with support needs are often offered reduced child care hours when the SCD or ASCD support allocation does not meet the needs for full-time child care. Comparison of 2017-2018 and 2018-2019Footnote 12 data suggests that the $10M ELCC annual enhancement resulted in the following:

While the numbers of new children being served is significantly lower than anticipated, data indicates a significant increase in direct service hours across the program. These findings suggest that the $10M annual funding enhancement has been directed at addressing unmet needs for children already on a SCD or ASCD caseload, as well as a more modest than expected increase in average number of children and families served.

The mechanism

The enhanced funding for SCD and the ASCD programs will be maintained in 2020-2021 to continue to assist children with extra support needs and their families to meet their support needs and enable them to access child care services.Footnote 13

Although the current programs are not limited to children under the age of six, it is estimated that almost 70 % of the current program resources are utilized to support these younger children. SCD funds are delivered to contracted agencies within communities, and these agencies determine how to allocate the resources based on local needs. Under these programs, children under the age of six are given higher priority than school-age children in the allocation of resources/supports.

Considering the foundational role of the SCD programs, support to children under the age of six in child care settings is prioritized. SCD also provides supports to school-age school care settings; however, the early years are prioritized when determining local budgets. As with supports in the early years, supports in out-of-school care settings include a range of direct supports to enable children with support needs to participate fully in out-of-school care settings.

Communities with diverse and unique needs including Indigenous communities, minority language and cultural groups, and French speaking communities are able to benefit from these specialized supports to access inclusive child care settings as needed. Additionally, ASCD services are delivered within a cultural model, respecting traditional protocol, language and traditions.Footnote 14

Impacts

In 2017-2018, Ministry data identified an estimated average monthly caseload of 5,971 children and their families for SCD/ASCD programs, at any given point in time. The $10M annual enhancement enabled access for an average of 366 more children and families each month. Maintaining the enhancement is expected to continue to serve an average of 366 more children per month compared to the 2017-2018 baseline. In addition, it is expected that children across the SCD caseload will continue to receive a 13.5 per cent increase in hours of direct service compared to the 2017-2018 baseline (~175,000 hours of direct intervention). Maintaining this increase in service will enable more children and families to access more hours of inclusive child care.

Indicator of success: Impact of maintaining enhanced funding for Supported Child Development Programs for children with extra support needsc
Details Annual funding Number of children served – point in time Number of direct service hrs. Number of children under six years old
Baseline provincial funding $60M 5,970 1,425,000 3,940c
Continued investment $10M 366 175,000 243c
Total $70M 6,336 1,600,000 4,183c

c Estimates.

Priority 3: ECE professional development

Quality is one of the key pillars of Childcare BC, and to help achieve the goal of quality child care, Government has committed to supporting recruitment and retention in the Early Care and Learning (ECL) workforce through wages, education, and professional learning. To this end, funds under the previous ELCC Agreement were invested in the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Education Support Fund, which provides funds via two bursary programs to support the post- secondary education of individuals working, or wishing to work, in the early childhood care and learning sector in B.C.

The ECE Student Bursary Fund is available to all students studying ECE. Eligible students can apply for up to $4,000 per semester in funding to assist with tuition and living expenses while studying. Awarded amounts will be dependent on the number of registered courses with $500 granted per course.

The ECE Workforce Development Bursary Fund is available to ECEs, ECE Assistants, Responsible Adults (as defined in the Child Care Licensing Regulation) and Strong Start Facilitators who have paused their studies to enter the ECE Workforce, or for those who would like to upgrade their credentials. Applicants must be able to demonstrate active employment with a licensed child care facility. Awards may range in amounts, up to $5,000 per semester.

Interest in these bursaries has continued to grow, and between 2017-2018 and 2019-2020, $15.9M has been invested in the program to help meet demand. Current funds will be fully expended following the Summer 2020 semester.

The Government of British Columbia will use $1.4M (estimated projection) in 2020-2021 ELCC funding and the $2.47M unspent from 2019-2020 to continue education supports for ECE students. Priority will be given to Indigenous applicants seeking to obtain their ECE credentials.

Indicator of success: Impact of ECE Education Support Fund (up to end of Fall 2019 semester)
Total funding Number of student bursariesd Number of workforce bursariesd Total number of bursariesd
$15.9 M 5,795 586 6,381

d Point in time up to end of Fall 2019 Semester. Winter 2020 Semester numbers still being finalized

COVID-19 update

Most ECE education programs continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, with modifications for increased online program delivery. Impacts of online delivery on demand are yet to be determined.

Carry over spending

BC intends to invest the $2.47M in 2019-2020 carry over funds into ECE professional development (see above).

Innovation and knowledge
Innovation

Innovation is vital to achieving BC's commitment to implementing a ten-year universal child care plan. BC leadership has committed to making life more affordable, delivering services that people count on, and doing so in a sustainable and innovative way. This Action Plan lays out several new ways of doing things in response to these commitments.

Summary of innovative measures
Initiative Innovation
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – operational funding Targeted operational grants – operators will continue to receive new grants enabling them to offer families significantly reduced-cost child care spaces, up to a maximum of $200/month.
Indigenous child care New funding arrangements – In order to better coordinate services provided within Indigenous communities, funds available to the Province will continue to flow through two existing Indigenous organizations that have expertise in Indigenous-led early learning and child care. The investment approach exemplifies planning that is community driven and co-developed with several partners.
Knowledge

Under the terms of the ELCC Multilateral Agreement, BC has committed to continue to work with Canada and the other Provinces and Territories to contribute to research and the general understanding of what works for providing quality, affordable, accessible and inclusive early learning and child care in Canada.

The Province is committed to accounting for the new funding provided by Canada and to report on the success of the new initiatives and enhancements to current programs and services.

Summary of 2020-2021 investments
Priority Initiative Expected impacts Investment
Maintain enhanced affordability by subsidizing the ongoing operational costs of new Prototype Sites Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Operations Families of approximately 2,900 children will continue to benefit from significantly reduced parent fees while accessing more than 2,500 licensed child care spaces $31 million
Maintain improved access to inclusive, affordable and flexible child care programs to some underserved communities with targeted program supports Indigenous child care Approximately 643 spaces will continue to provide culturally- based Indigenous services (12 new urban sites with 303 spaces; 17 new on-reserve sites and 2 on-reserve expansion sites, with 340 spaces) $10 million
Children with extra support needs More children and families will have access to inclusive child care and children already on caseload will receive more service enabling more hours of child care. It is expected that 360 more children will receive service each month, and that children across the caseload will receive a 13.5% increase in direct service hours, using a 2017-2018 baseline $10 million
Provide financial supports for ECE students, with a priority on increasing the number of Indigenous ECEs Education Supports for ECEs Approximately 500 ECE students will have access to bursary funds to offset the cost of obtaining their post-secondary education $3.84 millionFootnote 15

The following indicators and targets will be utilized to track and report on results:

Details of expected results: Indicators and targets
Initiative Indicator Targets (by March 31, 2021) Annual report (2020-2021)
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Operations The number of children benefiting from affordable child care spaces, including the number of children from underserved communities (Indigenous families, families with children with extra support needs, and young parents completing their Secondary education) Maintaining 2,900 children Yes
Indigenous child care Number of child care spaces providing culturally-based Indigenous services, including number of spaces on and off reserve Maintaining 643 child care spaces Yes
Children with extra support needs Number of children with extra support needs who will access supported child development programs Maintaining 360 children on average per month Yes

In addition to reporting on the key indicators noted above, BC will report on other indicators as available.

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