Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

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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 (herein referred to as "the federal Minister')

And

Her Majesty the Queen in right of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador (hereinafter referred to as "Newfoundland and Labrador' or "Government of Newfoundland and Labrador') as represented by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the Minister for Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs, herein referred to as "the provincial Ministers')

Referred to collectively as the "Parties"

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador agreed to a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework on June 12, 2017, which articulated their shared vision for early learning and child care and describes their approach to achieve this vision;

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 Executive Council Act and Intergovernmental Affairs Act authorizes the provincial Ministers to enter in agreements with the Government of Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding toward costs incurred by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for the provision of early learning and child care programs and services;

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, in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, is developing a separate framework on Indigenous early learning and child care; and

Whereas, Newfoundland and Labrador invests in early learning and child care for Indigenous children.

Now therefore, Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador 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 Annex 1, will guide the investment of funds provided under this Agreement.

2. Early Learning and Child Care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador 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 objective of expanding existing services and programs and introducing new initiatives to enhance the quality, sufficiency, affordability and inclusivity of early learning and child care. Newfoundland and Labrador's policy towards Early Learning and Child Care and 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 Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services, as per the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Care Act, 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, Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to take into account the needs of the official language minority community in Newfoundland and Labrador.

2.2.3 Types of investments include but are not limited to: capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care, fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for the early childhood workforce, quality assurance, parents' information and referral, and administration costs incurred by Newfoundland and Labrador in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador also agree to 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 Newfoundland and Labrador agree that funding will be targeted toward programs and activities, as described above, with priority 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 also include having limited or no access to early learning and child care programs and services in the children's official language in official language minority communities.

3. Period of agreement

3.1 This Agreement shall come into effect upon the last signature being affixed and will remain in effect until March 31, 2020, unless terminated in writing by Canada or Newfoundland and Labrador in accordance with the terms hereof in section 11. Funding provided under this Agreement, in accordance with section 4, will cover the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020.

3.2 Renewal of bilateral agreements

3.2.1 Canada commits that the annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 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 Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada the opportunity to review and, if required, realign new priorities in future bilateral agreements based on progress made to date.

4. Financial provisions

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

4.2 Allocation to Newfoundland and Labrador

4.2.1 Canada has designated the following maximum amounts to be transferred 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, 2020.

  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

4.2.2 Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.3, Newfoundland and Labrador's estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal Year Estimated amount to be paid to Newfoundland and Labrador* (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 7,383,089
2018-2019 7,378,451
2019-2020 7,378,451

*Illustrative levels based on July 2017 population projections

Canada commits that the annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement under the conditions set in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3 For the per capita funding allocation set in section 4.2.1, the final yearly amount to be paid to Newfoundland and Labrador will be calculated using the following formula F x K/L, where:

F is the annual total funding amount transferred to provinces and territories minus the base funding;

K is the total population of Newfoundland and Labrador, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada;

L is the total population of Canada, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada.

4.2.4 For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.3, the population of Newfoundland and Labrador 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 released in September of that fiscal year by Statistics Canada.

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

4.4.1 Canada's contribution will be paid in approximately equal semiannual installments 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 first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each Fiscal Year. 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 per cent of the notional amount of Canada's maximum contribution to Newfoundland and Labrador 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 contribution to Newfoundland and Labrador for the fiscal year based on the actual amount of the contribution determined under sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 for the fiscal year.

Canada will notify Newfoundland and Labrador 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 Newfoundland and Labrador of the actual 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 shall withhold payment of its second installment for the fiscal year if Newfoundland and Labrador has failed to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous fiscal year in accordance with section 5.2.1 (d) 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 contribution in respect of administration costs

4.5.1 Canada's contribution in respect of Newfoundland and Labrador's administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

In Fiscal Years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 an amount up to 10 per cent of the maximum amount payable for those fiscal years.

4.6 Carry forward

4.6.1 At the request of Newfoundland and Labrador and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, Newfoundland and Labrador may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019, an amount of up to 50 per cent of the contribution paid to Newfoundland and Labrador for 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Newfoundland and Labrador 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 this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Newfoundland and Labrador 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. Newfoundland and Labrador 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 Newfoundland and Labrador and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, Newfoundland and Labrador may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020, an amount of up to 10 per cent of the contribution paid to Newfoundland and Labrador for 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Newfoundland and Labrador 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 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Newfoundland and Labrador under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2019-2020.

4.6.6 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.4 must be spent by March 31, 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2020, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada's contribution for fiscal year 2019-2020 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.

4.7 Repayment of overpayment

4.7.1 In the event payments made to Newfoundland and Labrador exceed the amount to which Newfoundland and Labrador is entitled under the Agreement, the amount of the excess is a debt due to Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador shall repay the amount within 90 days of written notice from Canada.

4.8 Use of funds

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

4.8.2 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador agree that, within each fiscal year of the period of this Agreement, Newfoundland and Labrador may move funding between the individual programming categories outlined in its Action Plan in Annex 2 to ensure the maximum use of funding. Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to notify Canada in writing of any such change in funding allocation, including the rationale for the change.

5. Accountability

5.1 Action plan

5.1.1 Newfoundland and Labrador has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 of federal funding with Canada, as set out in Annex 2. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, Newfoundland and Labrador will publicly release their Action Plan which:

  1. identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework's parameters, which build upon 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;
  2. describes how Newfoundland and Labrador plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need, including families that have limited access to programs and services in their official language in official language minority communities;
  3. outlines their planned innovation spending;
  4. demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Newfoundland and Labrador early learning and child care spending, in particular spending dedicated to Indigenous populations;
  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. identifies additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  8. identifies consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.2, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback.

5.1.2 Newfoundland and Labrador will complete targeted engagement with parents, child care providers, experts, Indigenous peoples, official language minority communities and other interested residents of Newfoundland and Labrador as an important step in developing and revising its Action Plan. The engagement will include, but is not limited to, face-to-face sessions; online sessions; written submissions, and; surveys. The goal of this engagement is to gather input on how to better address the early learning and child care needs of Newfoundland and Labrador communities.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 In the first fiscal year, Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to provide available baseline data on indicators set out in their Action Plan as soon as possible after the Parties signing this agreement and no later than December 31, 2017.

5.2.2 By no later than October 1, 2019 and October 1, 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to:

  1. Report to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and to Canada on the results and expenditures of early learning and child care programs and services. The report 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. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement.
  2. Continue to provide to Canada data required for the publication of the joint Federal-Provincial/Territorial report on Public Investments in Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada.
  3. Provide to Canada an Annual Report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement and shall include:
    1. a brief description of the activities, expenditures and results of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador 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. the impact on families more in need, including families that have limited access to programs and services in their official language referred to in Annex 2;
    4. results achieved on innovation referred to in Annex 2;
    5. a description of consultation processes consistent with section 5.1.2, the types of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback; and,
    6. any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the Fiscal Year, as available.
  4. Provide to Canada an audited financial statement of revenues received from Canada under this Agreement during the fiscal year including:
    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 Newfoundland and Labrador in developing and administering early learning and child care programs under section 2.2.3;
    4. the amount of any amount carried forward by Newfoundland and Labrador under section 4.6, if applicable; and
    5. if applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.7.

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

5.2.3 Canada, with prior notice to Newfoundland and Labrador, may incorporate all or any part or parts of the said report into any public report that Canada may prepare for its own purposes, including any reports to the Parliament of Canada or reports that may be made public.

5.3 Audit

5.3.1 Newfoundland and Labrador will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with Newfoundland and Labrador's standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, Newfoundland and Labrador will evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement and make public the results of any such evaluations.

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador 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. Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador 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.

6.2 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age six.

7. Communications

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

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

7.3 Canada reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and this bilateral agreement. Canada agrees to give Newfoundland and Labrador 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the Framework, this bilateral agreement, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 Newfoundland and Labrador reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and this bilateral agreement. Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to give Canada 10 days advance notice and advance copies of public communications related to the Framework, this bilateral agreement, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador 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 Newfoundland and Labrador 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 Newfoundland and Labrador, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials, at the Assistant Deputy Minister level.

8.3 If a dispute cannot be resolved by Designated Officials, then the dispute will be referred to the Deputy Ministers of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the respective federal Minister of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador Minister most responsible for early learning and child care shall endeavor to resolve the dispute.

9. 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 Newfoundland and Labrador, any provision of that agreement or amended agreement is more favourable 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 Newfoundland and Labrador, if requested by Newfoundland and Labrador. The amendment shall be retroactive to the date on which the agreement, or amendment to such an agreement, with the other province or territory comes into force. This includes any provision of the bilateral agreement except for the Financial Provisions set out under section 4.0.

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. Amendments to the Agreement

10.1 This Agreement, including all attached annexes, except Annex 1, may be amended at any time by mutual written and signed consent of the Parties.

11. Termination

11.1 Canada may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by Newfoundland and Labrador by giving at least 12 months' written notice of its intention to terminate. Newfoundland and Labrador may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by Canada by giving at least 12 months' written notice of its intention to terminate.

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

12. 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:

140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to Newfoundland and Labrador shall be:

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
P. O. Box 8700
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 4J7

13. General

31.1 This Agreement, including Annexes 1 and 2, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of Newfoundland and Labrador 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 at Gatineau, Québec this 14 day of December, 2017.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Employment and Social Development

Signed on behalf of Newfoundland and Labrador by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development at St. John's this 15 day of December 2017.

The Honourable Dale Kirby, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development

Signed on behalf of Newfoundland and Labrador by the Minister for Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs at St. John's this 15 day of December, 2017.

The Honourable Dwight Ball, Minister for Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care agreeFootnote 1on 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: Newfoundland and Labrador’s action plan

Newfoundland and Labrador's action plan supports the parameters established under the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. It reflects the guiding principles of quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity, and considers those more in need.

Early Learning and Child Care System in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a long history of providing a range of early learning and child care programs and services for young children and their families, while striving to increase access to affordable, high quality child care.Footnote 1

Child care for children below school age (birth to five years) is now governed by the new Child Care Act (2017). In Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately 37 per cent of children aged 0 to 4 attend regulated programs in a child care centre or a family child care home, either full or part-time.

In 2012, Newfoundland and Labrador launched its 10-year child care strategy Caring For Our Future: Provincial Strategy for Quality, Sufficient and Affordable Child Care in Newfoundland and Labrador 2012-2022. The strategy builds on three key pillars: quality, sufficiency and affordability. These pillars of the strategy align well with the principles of the Multilateral ELCC Framework. Funding available under this agreement will enhance the direction taken in the strategy, allowing the province to accomplish enhanced results by setting new targets for the remainder of the strategy.

The 10-year child care strategy was built on existing programs and services and introduced new initiatives to address child care needs based on positive practice, cross-jurisdictional research and an extensive stakeholder engagement process.

Newfoundland and Labrador has put in place three core programs and services to improve quality, sufficiency and affordability of early learning and child care:

The Child Care Services Subsidy (CCSS) program in Newfoundland and Labrador assists eligible families with the cost of regulated child care services by supporting low and moderate income families. The net family income (after income testing) is used to calculate the parental contribution towards the cost of child care. The subsidy is paid to the parent's chosen child care service based on daily subsidy rates set under program policy. Child care services may set their daily parent fee above the subsidy approved rate (with the exception of child care centres participating in the Operating Grant Program).

The Operating Grant Program (OGP), launched in 2014, provides grants to participating child care centres to improve the affordability and sustainability of child care services for families with young children. The OGP sets conditions for receiving operational grants which include setting caps for parent fees, serving healthy snacks and lunches, and setting minimum wages for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) working in the centre. This program lowers the cost of child care for all parents, and is particularly beneficial to those more in need who are eligible for a child care subsidy.Footnote 2

The Child Care Capacity Initiative (CCCI) program provides developmental, capital and start-up funding to not-for-profit community groups who want to develop child care spaces in underserviced areas of the province, which includes linguistic minority communities, Indigenous communities, and areas of the province where vulnerabilities in early learning have been demonstrated.

Recent initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador

There are a number of provincial early learning and child care initiativesFootnote 3 that were introduced over the last year in Newfoundland and Labrador, that support the direction of this Action Plan:

  • Full-Day Kindergarten for five-year old children was launched in the 2016-2017 school year. Full Day Kindergarten is a child-centred, developmentally appropriate, integrated program of learning through play available to all five-year-old children in public schools.
  • In November 2016 a Premier's Task Force was appointed to conduct a review of the K-12 education system in Newfoundland and Labrador and to consider priority areas, including early learning. The Task Force gathered extensive input from parents, key stakeholder organizations and educators. Some key recommendations of the Premier's Task Force for the early years are: to expand the Operating Grants Program, and to develop upgrading and professional learning opportunities for early childhood educators.
  • The new Child Care Act and Regulations came into effect on July 31, 2017. The new legislation clarifies, strengthens and modernizes the previous legislation. Key changes include enhanced qualifications requirements for early childhood educators, changes in age ranges, and an opportunity to provide child care services outside regular hours. The changes provide flexibility for licensees and increase the quality expectation of newly licensed services (licensed child care centres, licensed family child care homes and family child care homes approved under a family child care agency's licence)Footnote 4;
  • Navigating the Early Years: An Early Childhood Learning Framework, the new curriculum framework, has been developed and piloted in regulated child care centres and in family resource centres over the past two years. The Framework will guide the practice of ECEs in many settings. It is anticipated that the Framework will be launched in 2017-2018.

Early Learning and Child Care challenges in Newfoundland and Labrador

Despite these developments, Newfoundland and Labrador is facing unique challenges related to accessibility, affordability and quality of its early learning and child care system.

  • Challenges related to accessibility: While 37 per cent of children aged birth to four years attend regulated programs in a child care centre or a family child care home, there is space for 41.6 per cent of children at a provincial level, with overcapacity in some areas and shortages in othersFootnote 5. The availability of child care spaces varies greatly across the province, as accessibility challenges exist in some neighborhoods in urban communities,Footnote 6 and in some rural and remote communities. The large geographic area and the fiscal realities of Newfoundland and Labrador, combined with the small population, presents challenges in developing child care services that will meet the needs of smaller, rural communities.Footnote 7
  • Challenges related to affordability: In Newfoundland and Labrador, most licensed child care centres are privately owned and operated (approximately 65 per cent commercial and 35 per cent not-for-profit), setting their own rates and operational policies. The cost of child care is particularly high in urban areas. The Parent Trap report, released in December 2014 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), indicated that St. John’s had the second highest parent fees of major cities in Canada with a median monthly child-care fee of $1,400 for an infant space.Footnote 8
  • Challenges related to quality: According to the Association of Early Child Educators of Newfoundland and Labrador, those working in the early childhood education sector can range from 42 per cent having entry level credentials to four per cent having Level IV certification.Footnote 9 The qualification held by child care providers is linked in research to the quality of the service. In addition, a number of child care services are in need of renovations.Footnote 10

This Action Plan aims to assist in addressing these challenges through the priority areas described below.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s priority areas for investment in the Early Learning and Child Care system are:

  • Improving accessibility and affordability of child care for low and middle income families, and
  • Enhancing the quality of early learning and child care across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Current planned investments are as follows:

Fiscal Year 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
1. Improved Affordability and Accessibility
Expanding and Enhancing the Operating Grant Program (OGP) $4,150,000 $4,150,000 $4,150,000
Changes to the Child Care Services Subsidy (CCS) $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Enhancing the Child Care Capacity Initiative (CCCI) $500,000 $500,000 $500,000
Sub-Total $5,650,000 $5,650,000 $5,650,000
2. Enhanced Quality
Enhancements of grants, bursaries and professional learning for early childhood educators $150,000 $150,000 $150,000
Capital Quality Renovation Grant $1,000,000 Nil Nil
New Quality Improvement Grant Program Nil $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Sub-Total $1,150,000 $1,150,000 $1,150,000
3. Administration $583,089 $578,451 $578,451
Total: $7,383,089 $7,378,451 $7,378,451

Priority 1: Improved accessibility and affordability

The 2017 Premier’s Task Force Report emphasizes that “Affordability of and accessibility to early learning programs are significant challenges for many families”. This Action Plan proposes to invest in three programs (Operating Grant, Subsidy and Capacity Programs) which work together to address the affordability and accessibility challenges in Newfoundland and Labrador:

1. Expanding the operating grant program

Increasing the operating grants provided to licensed centres under this program and introducing new operating grants for licensed family child care homes in order to reduce the child care costs for low and moderate income families and support the affordability of child care for all families in Newfoundland and Labrador. This Program also caps parent fees at the child care subsidy rate at participating centres. This means children and families receiving full subsidy, have access to free child care in these centres. In addition, children and families, not receiving the subsidy, have access to more affordable child care at the subsidy rate at participating centres.

The investment under the Action Plan is expected to result in a five per cent increase (five additional child care centres) participating in the operating grant program (approximately 180 more affordable child care spaces in the province).

The Operating Grant Program will include regulated family child care services from 2018 to 2020. It is anticipated that this will increase the number of affordable child care spaces by approximately 360 spaces in family child care homes that choose to participate in the grant program.

This investment will increase the number of affordable sustainable child care spaces (540 spaces in total) in licensed child care centres and family child care homes over the next three years.

2. Changes to the Child Care Services Subsidy program

Increasing the net family income threshold (after income testing) will increase the number of families eligible for full and partial subsidies, and will further reduce the parental contribution for child care for those currently not eligible for a full subsidy. The program sets maximum daily rates that are paid directly to the regulated child care service on behalf of families. At this time a net family income of $32,000 per year or less, after income testing, results in a full subsidy so that there is no parental contribution required. Families with a net income above $32,000 may have a parental contribution assessed.

Investments made under this Action Plan will increase the net family income threshold (after income testing) to $35,000. It is anticipated that this will provide an additional 100 families with a full subsidy and a partial subsidy to an additional 60 moderate income families by 2020, and eliminating or reducing child care costs for approximately 540 children:

  • families in receipt of a full child care subsidy will see the elimination of surcharges and receive free child care; and
  • moderate income families that are in receipt of a partial child care subsidy will see reduced child care fees.
3. Enhancing the Child Care Capacity Initiative (CCCI)

The capacity initiative provides developmental, capital and start-up funding to not-for-profit community groups who want to develop child care centres. Enhancements (including an innovative expansion to include family child care) will increase the number of regulated child care services particularly in underserviced areas, with a focus on rural communities, linguistic minority communities, and Indigenous communities.

These enhancements will increase the grant available for non-profit organizations, which is anticipated to develop up to five new or expanded licensed child care centres with approximately 180 new spaces over three years. Newfoundland and Labrador values its partnership with and provides support for Francophone child care providers across the province. In line with its commitment to support official language minority communities, Newfoundland and Labrador will make efforts to create up to 20 of the 180 new spaces in an official language minority community by supporting creation of a new centre or expanding an existing centre.

The Province will also develop a family child care component of this capacity initiative for small, rural, remote, and linguistic minority communities where child care may not viable. This is anticipated to result in:

  • up to 10 new family child care homes (approximately 56 new child care spaces) in rural settings; and
  • up to two out of 10 new family child care homes (approximately 12 new child care spaces out of 56) for official language linguistic minority communities.

The enhancement of the Child Care Capacity Initiative will create approximately 236 new spaces and expand child care services for small, rural, remote, and linguistic minority communities.

Summary: Targets - Improved accessibility and affordability

Planned investment

  • Expanding the Operating Grant Program (OGP)
  • Increasing net family income threshold for the Child Care Subsidy Program
  • Enhancing the Child Care Capacity Initiative (CCCI)

Anticipated target

  • Total of 540 affordable sustainable child care spaces in licensed child care centres. This includes:
    • approximately 180 more affordable child care spaces in licensed child care centres
    • approximately 360 more affordable child care spaces in family child care homes
    • 100 additional families with full subsidy
    • 60 additional families with partial subsidy
  • This will eliminate or reduce child care costs for 540 children
  • Total of 236 new child care spaces. This includes:
    • approximately 180 new spaces in five new licensed child care centres; including one new or expanded child care centre - Indigenous community or group.
    • approximately 56 spaces in 10 new family child care homes in rural settings. Up to two out of 10 new family child care homes (approximately 12 new child care spaces out of 56) will serve official language linguistic minority communities

Priority 2: Enhanced quality

Quality improvement in regulated child care is vitally important for the growth and development of children under six. This Action Plan focuses on improving quality through investing in three areas:

1. Enhancements of grants, bursaries and professional learning opportunities for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs)

Quality and stability of the workforce in the child care sector is directly linked to the levels of education held by ECEs. Certification statistics in Newfoundland and Labrador clearly show that the higher the level of certification, the more likely a person is to renew their certification and to stay in the child care sector. The new Child Care Act requires those without a credential in Early Childhood Education to be working towards at least a post-secondary one-year certificate within a five-year period.

The province offers different types of bursaries for early childhood educators to encourage upskilling, recruitment and retention in the regulated child care sector (i.e., trainee bursary, on-campus field placement bursary, graduate bursary program). Enhancements of these bursaries under this agreement will attract early childhood educators to upgrade more quickly and to work in the regulated child care sector in the province.Footnote 11

This action plan enhances incentives to increase Early Childhood Education qualifications, thereby influencing the quality of the child care children receive in the Province.

The enhancements include several key components:

  • Increasing the ECE Trainee Bursary that currently provides $250 per completed Early Childhood Education course (maximum $500 per fiscal year) to those working in the child care sector who are upgrading their qualifications. This increase will lift the cap on the number of courses eligible for the bursary in each fiscal year in order to encourage quicker upgrading which will positively impact the quality of child care services. Based on an average of four distance courses per year per ECE this would raise the annual bursary to approximately $1,000 per ECE (including the $500 annual provincial contribution per ECE). Lifting the cap is anticipated to attract up to 10 additional ECEs per year to upgrade their qualifications more quickly (i.e., apply for more than two courses per year), positively impacting the quality of child care for an average of 80 children per year (based on a 1:8 staff : child ratio).Footnote 12
  • Increasing ECE On-Campus Field Placement Bursary that currently provides $1,200 on successful completion of a mandatory field placement at a College campus for those working in the child care sector who are upgrading their qualifications. This requirement has been reported to be preventing some ECEs from completing their certificate or diploma programs due to not being able to afford the time away from their workplace. It is anticipated that this initiative will increase the amount of the bursary to $2,500 (including the $1,200 provincial contribution) in order to better support of the cost of completing a mandatory placement. As a result of this increase it is anticipated that up to an additional 5 ECEs per year will now be able to complete their ECE program and receive their certificate or diploma, positively impacting the quality of child care for an average of 40 children per year (based on a 1:8 staff : child ratio).
  • Increasing the ECE Graduate Bursary Program that currently provides up to $5,000 based on full-time enrollment in an Early Childhood Education Diploma program (amount is prorated for distance students based on number of courses completed). Recipients of this bursary (approximately 25 per year) must agree to a two-year return in service in regulated child care in the province. This initiative plans to increase this bursary up to a maximum of approximately $7,500 and increase the service return to three years. This will provide an incentive to complete the two-year diploma program in Early Childhood Education, stay in the province and work in regulated child care. Ensuring that they work in regulated child care in the province positively impacts the quality of the child care services available for families. This increase in the bursary is anticipated to retain up to an additional 10 graduates per year to remain in the province and commit to work in the regulated child care sector for a longer period, thus positively impacting an average of 80 children per year (based on a 1:8 staff : child ratio).

In addition, this Action Plan proposes to broaden availability, accessibility, and quality of professional learning for those working in the early learning and child care sector, such as early childhood educators and those working family resource centres. As a result of these bursary investments under this agreement, up to 50 additional early childhood educators will attain either a one-year Certificate or two-year Diploma in Early Childhood Education by 2020, impacting positively approximately 400 children and all early childhood educators will have access to new professional learning opportunities.

2. Introducing a Capital Renovation Grant program for licensed child care centres (2017-2018)

New legislation was recently enacted that made significant changes in a number of quality related areas, such as staff qualifications, child care service programming, and in the physical space requirements for the child care service. At the time of the coming into force of the legislation 195 licensed child care centres and family child care homes were granted waivers for some of the quality-related physical changes that would have required renovation.

As a part of this Action Plan, a one-year Capital Renovation Grant program will be available to those child care centres and family child care homes holding waivers for physical space quality improvement. It is anticipated that 25 per cent of eligible licensed child care services (approximately 50 centres and homes / 1,750 spaces) will apply to avail of this grant. The Action Plan also proposes a capital quality enhancement grant to child care services participating in the Operating Grant Program through the development of the Quality Improvement Program.

3. Quality Improvement Program (2018-2020)

During the first year of this agreement (2017-2018) a Quality Improvement Program will be developed to roll out in 2018-2019 to improve early learning and child care quality in terms of program design and physical environments.

Beginning in 2018-2019 this program will offer:

  • dedicated child care quality consultants who will work with and provide consultation to all child care services who wish to participate in order to increase quality (anticipated participation 50 centres (approximately 1,750 spaces / 220 early childhood educators) and 20 family child care homes (approximately 100 spaces / 20 early childhood educators); and
  • a Quality Enhancement Grant available to child care services participating in the Operating Grant Program to boost quality and provide consultation services. It is anticipated that 15 per cent (approximately 15 centres / 525 spaces; five family child care homes / 25 spaces) of participating Operating Grant Program services will apply for this grant once it is available.
Summary: Targets - Enhancing quality

Planned investment

  • Enhancements to grants, bursaries and professional learning opportunities for ECEs
  • Quality Improvement Program Consultation Services
  • OGP Quality Improvement / Enhancement Grant
  • One year Capital Renovation Grant Program (2017-2018)

Anticipated target

  • 50 additional ECEs will receive a Certificate or Diploma in Early Childhood Education (impacting approximately 400 children)
  • (All ECEs in the province will have access to new professional learning opportunities)
  • 50 centres / family child care homes (1750 spaces)
  • 50 centres (1,750 spaces / 220 early childhood educators) / 20 family child care homes (100 spaces / 20 early childhood educators)
  • 20 OGP child care services (15 centres / 525 spaces; five family child care homes / 25 spaces)

How Newfoundland and Labrador plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need

The combination of investments proposed in this Action Plan will address the early learning and child care needs of children and families more in need. A provincial needs assessment will help target resources to communities and neighborhoods most in need of early learning and regulated child care, including rural, Indigenous, and official language minority communities. Increases and expansions to the capacity initiative and the operating grants will increase the number of affordable child care spaces while changes to the subsidy program will result in additional children and families more in need receiving full and partial subsidies. The combination of these initiatives will result in more families having access to free or low cost child care.

In addition, this Action Plan proposes a variety of incentives and supports to improve the quality of the early learning and child care sector. The development of a quality enhancement program that provides evidence-based curriculum supports and professional learning opportunities to support the release of Navigating the Early Years will strengthen the sector’s capacity to address the early learning and child care needs of children more in need.

Enhancing and expanding support to family child care will support child care needs in remote and underserviced areas where a centre-based service may not be viable. Opening up the Operating Grants and Child Care Capacity Initiative funds to family child care is expected to increase the number of children enrolled in this type of child care service.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Early Learning and Child Care Support for Francophone and Indigenous Communities

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Office of French Services is available to provide translation and linguistic support to facilitate dialogue and engagement with Francophone stakeholders and families to determine their priorities and needs for child care services.

The Office of Labrador Affairs and the Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs Secretariat is available to support the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to engage meaningfully so that the unique perspectives of Indigenous communities are at the forefront in determining priorities and needs for child care programs serving Indigenous families.

As an important step in developing and revising its Action Plan, Newfoundland and Labrador will complete targeted engagement with Indigenous peoples and official language minority groups of Newfoundland and Labrador. The goal of this engagement is to gather input on how to deliver better child care services to Francophone and Indigenous Communities.

Using funds provided by the federal government under this bilateral agreement, Newfoundland and Labrador will expand the Operating Grant Program and the Child Care Capacity Initiative to address unique needs and provide better access to affordable child care for Indigenous and for official language minority groups and communities, with a focus on French speaking communities. Enhancements to the Child Care Capacity Initiative will increase the support available for not-for-profit community groups or family child care providers to develop child care spaces in underserviced areas of the province, especially for French speaking communities.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s planned innovation spending

Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to develop and implement innovative approaches to address early learning and child care challenges through subsidies, grants, bursaries and professional learning opportunities that will support the principles of affordability, accessibility, inclusivity, and quality of regulated child care services provided to children in the province.

For instance, linkage of the operating grants with the subsidy program in Newfoundland and Labrador is innovative in the context of the provincial early learning and child care sector which insures that families more in need are able to access affordable child care spaces.

The proposed enhancement and expansion of both programs in this Action Plan will strengthen further this innovative linkage for supporting affordability of child care in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The province will focus its efforts on three key innovative areas:

  • Developing an Operating Grant component for Family Child Care to address affordability challenges in rural and remote community settings;
  • Introducing Family Child Care Capacity component of the Child Care Capacity Initiative to address unique accessibility challenges of early learning and child care in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially in rural, and remote communities where a child care centre may not be viable; and
  • Adding quality improvement support to regulated child care services (both consultative and financial).

Expanding the Operating Grant Program and the Child Care Capacity Initiative to include regulated family child care, particularly in rural areas and where need is demonstrated (e.g. linguistic minority communities), is an innovative approach to filling the gap where a child care centre may not be viable. This will expand access to affordable child care spaces in smaller communities, linguistic minority communities, and rural areas.

Quality improvement support through consultation services to all child care services and through access to a quality improvement capital grant for services participating in the operating grant program is an innovative program in this Province that increases the quality of child care services received by the children and families using the system.

Federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Newfoundland and Labrador’s early learning and child care spending, in particular spending dedicated to Indigenous populations

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to not displacing provincial investments with federal funding committed under this agreement.

At this time there is no specific budget in the early learning and child care area that is dedicated to Indigenous populations – funding programs (e.g. Child Care Services Subsidy, Operating Grant Program) are available for any regulated early learning and child care service.

For the 2017-2018 fiscal year the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has budgeted $50.6M for early learning and child care services.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s engagement with stakeholders

Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to engaging key stakeholders and the public regarding early learning and child care initiatives. The Department meets with the Association of Early Childhood Educators and the Child Care Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador regularly to gather feedback on early learning and child care issues.

Specific stakeholder engagement processes have taken place over the past year and a half with regard to the Inclusion Program, the Operating Grant Program, and the Early Learning and Child Care Supplement Program. These consultations included face-to-face sessions; online sessions; key stakeholder interviews, and surveys and provided invaluable insight into the needs of the sector as well as the needs of children and families most in need.

In addition to these departmental specific engagement sessions the Premier’s Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes also conducted wide-ranging public engagement, which included the early years in addition to the K-12 public school system in the province. The Division of Early Learning and Child Development also receives information relating to early learning and child care through other government engagement processes such as pre-budget consultations and minimum wage reviews.

Our ongoing commitment to public engagement is enshrined in our new Child Care Act which requires review, with public engagement, of the legislation every five years.

Indicators that will be reported on annually according to Newfoundland and Labrador’s planned investments
Priority area Principles Indicators related to planned investment Data currently available Annual report
2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Improved Affordability, Accessibility and Inclusivity Accessible Affordable and Flexible Number and percentage of regulated spaces by age range in child care centres and in family child care homes (on OGP and not on OGP) Yes for centres

OGP to be developed for family child care
Yes for centres

No for family child care
Yes Yes
Number and percentage of children receiving a Child Care Subsidy by age range attending a child care centre or family child care home (on OGP and not on OGP) Yes for centres

OGP to be developed for family child care
Yes for centres

No for family child care
Yes Yes
Number of children and families with a Child Care Subsidy (full and partial) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Average parental contribution Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of spaces created by the Child Care Capacity Initiative by age range in child care centres and family child care Yes for centres

CCCI for Family Child Care to be developed
Yes for centres

N/A for family child care
Yes Yes
Inclusive Number of child care centres and family child care homes serving francophone communities/neighbor-hoods, total number of spaces by age range in centres and family child care homes (on OGP and not on OGP) No No Yes Yes
Number of child care centres and family child care homes, and spaces by age range in Indigenous communities in centres and family child care homes (on OGP and not on OGP) No No Yes Yes
Enhancing Quality High Quality Total Number and percentage of certified Early Childhood Educators by level of certification Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of ECEs involved in Professional Learning as part of the Early Childhood Learning Framework Framework to be launched 2017-2018 No Yes Yes
Number of ECE Bursaries (Trainee, On-Campus Field Placement and Graduate Bursaries) and number of courses claimed Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of child care centres and family child care homes (on OGP and not on OGP) accessing quality enhancement programs Quality Improvement Program to be developed in 2017-2018 N/A Yes Yes
Number of child care services accessing capital grants to meet new quality standards To be developed Yes N/A N/A
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