Canada – Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Agreement - 2021 to 2025

Official title: Canada-Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

List of abbreviations

DEA
Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities
DESDA
Department of Employment and Social Development Act
ECE
Early childhood educators
ELCC
Early learning and child care
GN
Government of Nunavut
IQ
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit
NTI
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
O&M
Operations and maintenance
RIAs
Regional Inuit Associations

Canada – Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

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”) and as represented by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (herein referred to as “the Federal Minister”) and
  • The Government of Nunavut (hereinafter referred to as “Nunavut” or “Government of Nunavut”) as represented by the Minister of Education (herein referred to as “the Territorial Minister”)

Referred to collectively as the “Parties”.

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and Nunavut agreed to a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework on June 12, 2017 (the “Framework”) which articulated their shared vision for early learning and child care (ELCC) and describes their approach to achieve this vision.

Whereas, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act (DESDA) 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 DESDA.

Whereas, the Child Day Care Act authorizes the Minister of Education (the “Territorial Minister”) to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding toward costs incurred by the Government of Nunavut 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 6 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, which 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 and centered on children and grounded in culture, and can be used as a guide for all actors involved in Indigenous ELCC.

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

Whereas, the Canada-Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Agreement was signed on September 20, 2017 (2017 to 2020 agreement) and extended by 1 year on June 12, 2020.

Whereas, in accordance with section 3.0 of the agreement signed in 2020, Canada and Nunavut wish to extend the agreement for a period of 4 years commencing April 1, 2021 and ending March 31, 2025, on the same terms and conditions as the agreement, save and except for amendments as provided herein.

Whereas, intentions to extend the agreement were stated in writing and negotiations had commenced prior to the expiry of the 2020 to 2021 agreement.

Whereas, Canada and Nunavut will work together towards establishing a Canada-wide child care system.

Now therefore, Canada and Nunavut agree as follows.

1.0 Vision for early learning and child care

1.1 Canada and Nunavut 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.

2.0 Early learning and child care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Canada and Nunavut agree that over the period of this agreement, with financial support from Canada, Nunavut 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 following:

  1. in line with the vision of access for all children, the Framework establishes broad goals for early learning and child care systems that are of high quality, accessible, flexible, affordable and inclusive. The Government of Nunavut, through the Department of Education is in agreement with these goals and is committed to working towards fulfillment of these goals. These goals are set out in the attached action plan (annex 2)

2.1.2 Canada and Nunavut agree that for fiscal year 2021 to 2022 only, Canada will provide a one-time contribution to Nunavut that will be used to support the recruitment and retention of the early childhood workforce, in accordance with annex 3.

2.2 Eligible areas of investment

2.2.1 Nunavut agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this agreement for regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under the age of 6 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 Official languages and the Inuit Language Protection Act

2.2.2.1 Nunavut agrees that it shall take into account the needs of official language minority communities in Nunavut in execution of any early learning and child care programming.

2.2.2.2 Nunavut acknowledges that article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claim agreement and the Inuit Language Protection Act require that territorial institutions design and deliver programs and services that are responsive to the linguistic objectives of the Inuit and shall take this into account in developing and delivering its early learning and child care programs and services.

2.2.3 Acceptable investments under this agreement may 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, parent information and referral, and certain administration costs incurred by Nunavut in implementing and administering this agreement.

2.2.4 Canada and Nunavut 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 Nunavut agree that funding will be targeted toward regulated programs and activities, as described above, for children under the age of 6, 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 families with caregivers who work non-standard hours, racialized families including Black families, and children with disabilities and children needing enhanced or individual supports. Needs also 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 fiscal year 2021 to 2022, given the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, Nunavut may allocate funding under this agreement to support short-term measures to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on Nunavut’s ELCC system. These measures must be aligned with the principles of the Multilateral ELCC Framework (annex 1) and be used to sustain ELCC programs and services.

3.0 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, 2025, unless terminated in writing by Canada or Nunavut 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, 2021 to March 31, 2025.

3.2 Extension of bilateral agreements

3.2.1 Subject to Parliamentary approval of appropriations, Canada commits that the total annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period of fiscal year 2025 to 2026 to fiscal year 2027 to 2028 will be no less than the total annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the fiscal year covered under the 2020 to 2021 agreement. Funding during the fiscal year 2025 to 2026 to fiscal year 2027 to 2028 period will be provided upon the execution of another extension of this bilateral agreement and 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 extension will provide Nunavut and Canada the opportunity to review and course correct, if required, and realign new priorities in future bilateral agreements based on progress made to date.

4.0 Financial provisions

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

4.2 Allocation to Nunavut

4.2.1 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.

4.2.2 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, 2021 and ending on March 31, 2025:

  1. $399,347,694 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2021
  2. $524,347,694 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2022
  3. $565,847,694 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2023
  4. $565,847,694 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2024

4.2.3 Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.4, Nunavut’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.2 will be:

Table 1: Estimated amount to be paid to Nunavut
Fiscal year Estimated amount to be paid to Nunavut* (subject to annual adjustment)
2021 to 2022 $2,386,588
2022 to 2023 $2,516,020
2023 to 2024 $2,558,992
2024 to 2025 $2,558,992

*Amount represents annual estimates based on Statistics Canada population estimates

4.2.4 The final yearly amount to be paid to Nunavut 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 Nunavut, 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

4.2.5 For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.4, the population of Nunavut 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 Payment

4.3.1 Subject to Parliamentary approval of appropriations, Canada’s contribution will be paid in approximately equal semi-annual installments as follows.

4.3.2 In fiscal year 2021 to 2022, 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.

4.3.3 Beginning in fiscal year 2022 to 2023, 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.

4.3.4 The amount of the first installment will be an amount equal to 50% of the notional amount of Canada’s maximum contribution to Nunavut for the fiscal year, which will be calculated in the manner described in sections 4.2.4 and 4.2.5.

4.3.5 The amount of the second installment will be an amount equal to the balance of Canada’s contribution to Nunavut for the fiscal year based on the actual amount of the contribution determined under sections 4.2.4 and 4.2.5 for the fiscal year.

4.3.6 Canada will notify Nunavut 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 Nunavut of the actual amount of the second installment in each fiscal year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.4 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.5.

4.3.7 Starting in fiscal year 2022 to 2023, Canada shall withhold payment of its first installment for each fiscal year if Nunavut has failed to provide its annual action plan in respect of that fiscal year in accordance with section 5.1.3 until such time as the annual action plan is provided.

4.3.8 In fiscal year 2021 to 2022, Canada shall withhold payment of its second installment for that fiscal year until Nunavut provides its annual audited financial statement of the last fiscal year covered by the agreement signed in 2020 in accordance with section 5.2.1 (d) of that agreement.

4.3.9 Beginning in fiscal year 2022 to 2023, Canada shall withhold payment of its second installment for the fiscal year if Nunavut 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.

4.3.10 The sum of both semi-annual installments of Canada’s funding for a fiscal year constitutes a final payment for that fiscal year and is not subject to any further adjustment once the second installment of that fiscal year has been paid.

4.3.11 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.

4.4 Maximum annual contribution in respect of administration costs

4.4.1 Canada’s contribution in respect of Nunavut’s administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 and section 2.3 of annex 3 shall not exceed:

  • in the fiscal years covered under this agreement an amount of up to or equal to 10% of the maximum amount payable for those fiscal years

4.5 Carry forward

4.5.1 At the request of Nunavut, and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Nunavut may retain and carry forward to the following fiscal year any unexpended funds remaining from Nunavut’s annual contribution paid under section 4.2., up to a maximum of 10% of the contribution paid. Any unexpended funds in excess of 10% of the contribution paid represents an overpayment subject to section 4.6.

4.5 2 Nunavut may only use the amount carried forward to the following fiscal year for expenditures on eligible areas of investment made under section 2.2 incurred that fiscal year.

4.5.3 For greater certainty, any unexpended funds remaining from Nunavut’s annual contribution paid under section 4.2., up to a maximum of 10% of the contribution paid to Nunavut in the last year of the agreement signed in 2020, is eligible for carry forward to the first year of this agreement.

4.5.4 For greater certainty, any amount carried forward under section 4.5.1 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Nunavut under section 4.2.3 of this agreement during the fiscal year in which the funding is carried forward.

4.5.5 All amounts carried forward to the next fiscal year, pursuant to section 4.5.1 must be spent by the end of that fiscal year. Nunavut is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after the end of that fiscal year, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution paid pursuant to section 4.2 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year and that is not carried forward in accordance with section 4.5.1. Such amounts are considered debts due to Canada and shall be repaid in accordance with section 4.6.

4.6 Repayment of overpayment

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

4.6.2 Canada shall, in addition to any other remedies available, have the right to recover the debt by deducting or setting-off the amount of the debt from any future contribution payable to Nunavut under this agreement.

4.7 Use of funds

4.7.1 Canada and Nunavut agree that funds provided under this agreement will only be used by Nunavut 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 Nunavut has completed and shared its action plan for fiscal year 2021 to 2022 with Canada as set out in annex 2 of this agreement. Upon signature of this agreement by both Parties, Nunavut will publicly release their action plan which:

  1. identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, which builds upon the progress to date, including maintaining and building on the more affordable spaces created under the 2017 to 2021 agreement, and further enhancing 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 Nunavut 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. outlines Nunavut’s planned innovation spending
  4. demonstrates and confirms that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Nunavut 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. contains a description of consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.2, including the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback

5.1.2 Nunavut will consult with parents, child care providers, experts, Indigenous peoples, official language minority communities and other interested Canadians as an important step in developing and revising its action plan.

5.1.3 By May 1 of each fiscal year during the period of this agreement, starting in fiscal year 2022 to 2023, Nunavut agrees to share with Canada an annual action plan. The annual action plan shall include the elements described in section 5.1.1 a) through h). Once the Parties agree that the annual action plan is final, it may be published by one or both of the Parties.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 By no later than October 1 of each fiscal year during the period of this agreement, Nunavut agrees to:

  1. report to the people of Nunavut 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 benefitting 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 Nunavut. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this agreement and shall include:
    1. brief descriptions of the activities, expenditures and results of the agreement as set out in annex 2
    2. results achieved according to the indicators and targets referred to in annex 2
    3. the impacts 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. descriptions of consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback referred to in annex 2
    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 which shall include:
    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 Nunavut in developing and administering early learning and child care programs under section 2.2.3
    4. if applicable, the amount of any amount carried forward by Nunavut under section 4.5
    5. if applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.6
  5. The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the Nunavut Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of Nunavut and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.2.2 Canada, with prior notice to Nunavut, 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 Nunavut will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with Nunavut’s standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 Pursuant to established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, Nunavut will evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this agreement and make public the results of any such evaluations.

6.0 Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and Nunavut agree to share and release data, knowledge, research and information, as available, 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 Nunavut 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 Nunavut agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age 6.

7.0 Communications

7.1 Canada and Nunavut 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 agrees to give Nunavut 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this agreement.

7.4 Nunavut agrees to give Canada 10 days advance notice and advance copies of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this agreement.

7.5 Canada reserves 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 Nunavut 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 Nunavut 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 Nunavut, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and Nunavut will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials.

8.3 If a dispute cannot be resolved by Designated Officials, then the dispute will be referred to the Deputy Ministers most responsible for early learning and child care of Canada and Nunavut, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the Federal Minister and the Territorial Minister shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9.0 Amendments to the Agreement

9.1 This agreement, including all attached annexes, except annex 1, may be amended at any time by mutual consent of the Parties. To be valid, any amendments shall be in writing and signed, by the Parties.

9.2 Waiver

9.2.1 Failure by any Party to exercise any of its rights, powers, or remedies under this agreement or its delay to do so does not constitute a waiver of those rights, powers, or remedies. Any waiver by either Party of any of its rights, powers, or remedies under this agreement must be in writing; and, such a waiver does not constitute a continuing waiver unless it is so explicitly stated.

10.0 Equality of treatment

10.1 During the term of this agreement, if another province or territory, except the province of Quebec, which is not part of the Framework, negotiates and enters into an agreement with Canada to extend a 2020 to 2021 Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, or negotiates and enters into an amendment to such an agreement and if, in the reasonable opinion of Nunavut, any provision of that agreement or amended agreement is more favourable to that province or territory than terms set forth in this agreement, Canada agrees to amend this agreement in order to afford similar treatment to Nunavut, if requested by Nunavut. This includes any provision of the agreement except for the financial provisions set out under section 4.0. This amendment shall be retroactive to the date on which the agreement or the amendment to such an agreement with the other province or territory, as the case may be, comes into force.

10.2 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.

11.0 Termination

11.1 Canada may terminate this agreement at any time if the terms of this agreement are not respected by Nunavut by giving at least 6 months written notice of its intention to terminate.

11.2 Upon the effective date of termination of this agreement under section 11.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to Nunavut.

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 8 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
NC-SSP-ELCC-GD@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

The address for notice or communication to Nunavut shall be:

Director, Early Learning and Child Care
PO Box 1000, Station 960
Iqaluit NU  X0A 0H0
rclowedu@gov.nu.ca

13.0 General

13.1 This agreement, including annexes 1, 2, and 3, comprise the entire agreement entered into by the parties.

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 Nunavut.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of Nunavut 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 The English and French versions of this agreement, when signed, are equally authoritative.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Employment and Social Development (“Canada”) and as represented by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in Ottawa this 13th day of August, 2021.

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

Signed on behalf of Nunavut by the Minister of Education at Iqaluit this 12th day of August, 2021.

[Signed by] the Honourable David Joanasie, Minister of Education.

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, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: Nunavut’s action plan for fiscal year 2021 to 2022

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nunavut’s ability to deliver on the initiatives outlined in the fiscal year 2021 to 2022 action plan may be affected. As such, the targets may not be achieved and expenditures may differ.

Multilateral and Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Early learning and childcare (ELCC) is a common policy priority all across Canada. In fiscal year 2017 to 2018, the Federal Government committed to supporting greater resources in this area and allocated $400 million to support the establishment of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks with provinces and territories. Additionally, the 2017 federal budget committed $7 billion, over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2018 to 2019. A portion of this investment is dedicated to early learning and childcare programs for Indigenous children.

In the spirit of greater collaboration, on June 12, 2017, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Most Responsible for ELCC met and signed a historic agreement on a Multilateral ELCC Framework to make enhancements to provincial and territorial early learning and childcare systems that will improve the lives of Canadian children and their families. The Framework sets the foundation for governments to work towards a shared long-term vision where all children across Canada can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and childcare. 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, which 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 and centered on children and grounded in culture, and can be used as a guide for all actors involved in Indigenous ELCC.

In addition to this long-term vision, the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks stress the importance of supporting families more in need to access high quality early learning and childcare opportunities. Given the importance of supporting families more in need, the provinces and territories have agreed, through the Framework, to emphasize supports to Indigenous families, lone-parent families, lower-income families, families in underserved communities, those working non-standard hours and/or families with children with varying abilities.

In line with the vision of access for all children, the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks establish broad principles for ELCC systems that are of high quality, accessible, flexible, affordable and inclusive. The Government of Nunavut (GN), through the Department of Education, agrees with these goals and is committed to working towards fulfillment of these goals. This revised ELCC action plan articulates how the Department of Education will work towards achieving the goals mentioned above and allocate the resources received from the Federal Government in support of ELCC programs and services consistent with the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks.

It should be noted that as a condition of the Multilateral ELCC Framework, any funding received from the Federal Government in support of this initiative must be allocated towards children, under age 6, attending regulated ELCC programs. Additionally, investments must be for the purpose of supporting those families more in need, Indigenous families and families in underserved communities with a view to ensuring that ELCC systems follow the principles of the Framework. The Framework also encourages provinces and territories to find innovative solutions to achieving these goals.

Benefits of ELCC

The Department of Education firmly believes in the positive outcomes associated with access to ELCC programs and services. Research conducted in this area has revealed, time and time again, numerous developmental benefits for children, many of which have lasting implications into adolescence and early adulthood. The Department of Education believes that ELCC provides a solid foundation, on which a lifetime of learning and development is built. It is this foundation which allows for the development of the whole child, including areas related to health and well-being and language acquisition, both of which are of significance in Nunavut.

The Department of Education also acknowledges the role that ELCC plays in terms of reducing barriers to greater labour force participation. Simply put, parents need access to safe, reliable, affordable childcare options so that they may pursue education, training and employment opportunities.

In line with these views, the Department of Education supports the delivery of ELCC programs and services as a means to:

  • promote the social, emotional and cognitive development of the child
  • increase school readiness and educational attainment
  • enhance the use of Inuktut
  • improve health outcomes and overall well-being
  • support increased labour force participation

ELCC in Nunavut: Challenges and opportunities

The impact of Nunavut’s remoteness on the delivery of ELCC programs and services is such that the cost of establishing, operating and maintaining ELCC centres is staggeringly high. Individuals and not-for-profit organizations across Nunavut seek licenses to operate regulated ELCC centres, but high capital costs, ongoing maintenance, and other operational difficulties often result in centres opening, just to close in a few years resulting in inconsistent services for many communities. In addition to these high costs, developing and maintaining infrastructure is often extremely challenging because of an insufficient supply of building materials and contractors given that all supplies must be flown into communities. The high cost of operating ELCC programs, coupled with a very large, young population, places a considerable burden on Nunavut’s ELCC system.

Challenges related to training, recruitment and retention of qualified ELCC staff is seen across Nunavut. Very few ELCC educators have any type of formal early childhood educators (ECE) training which reduces the desire to work within the field. Many centres hire staff who are willing to work for low wages, but due to lack of training and competitive wages, many chose to leave the field within a short time. This creates a revolving door of ELCC educators which decreases the ability to keep centres open to full capacity and provide high quality childcare. Competitive wages are needed to recruit and retain interested people to work within the ELCC sector. Enhanced training and understanding of children’s needs, programming and day to day operations of a high-quality childcare system is also highly needed. Providing specialized training to support the growth of understanding and services provided to children and competitive wages is key to the growth and stability of ELCC in Nunavut.

System gaps in ELCC programs in Nunavut persist due to challenges compounded by the remote nature of all of Nunavut’s communities and the increasingly high cost of services. ELCC programs and centres face increasing operations and maintenance costs along with the need for competitive wages results in regular increases to parental fees in order to remain operational. Simply providing a minimal fee subsidies would do little to address the pervasive system gaps and would not allow the flexibility for ELCC programs to increase their ability to provide quality programs.

Increasing parent fees remain an issue within Nunavut, as they continue to affect the accessibility of many centres. Data was collected in 2006, 2012, and 2016 regarding parental fees. In 2006, the average parental fee per child a day was $26.50 with the highest fee reaching $43.00. In 2014, the average parental fee per child a day was $33.15 with the highest fee reaching $58.00. This amount has increased further, with the average parental fee per child costing a total of $42.58 for full time infant space and $21.46 for preschool space per day and the highest fee now reaching $65.00. Initiatives that can bend the increasing cost curve of fees for parents will improve accessibility to ELCC programs for more children.

ELCC centres in Nunavut face increasing financial challenges and have little to no capacity to generate revenue without increasing parental fees. This financial challenge often results in system gaps and can adversely affect the quality of services provided. Supporting ELCC centres to bridge the gap which exists between the amount of funding and revenue they generate and the cost of running their programs will ensure the viability of the ELCC centres and improve the quality of ELCC programs. Doing so will help ELCC centres deliver affordable, high quality, and more consistent programs and services to families with children enrolled in their centre. Furthermore, this would also provide ELCC centres with increased flexibility to respond to the unique needs of the communities they serve.

Section A: Specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, with consideration for those more in need

From the results of the Department of Education’s consultations, and consistent with the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Framework, 5 broad ELCC commitments have been identified in this action plan that will address gaps in the ELCC system and increase the flexibility of ELCC programs to provide consistent and more accessible services that meet the needs of the communities they serve. These 5 commitments are as follows.

1. To support the healthy development of children by ensuring that ELCC programs are of high quality

The Department of Education recognizes that children will only fully benefit from ELCC programs and services that are of the highest quality possible. The Department will support ELCC centres in the pursuit of quality program delivery by investing in educators and educational program materials. Several of the identified investments in this action plan serve to effectively address this area of commitment.

2. To support the training and professional development of the ELCC workforce

The Department of Education will take action to assist and support ELCC centres in helping to ensure that the staff working within the centres are offered a more competitive wage and have greater access to training and professional development opportunities. Access to these opportunities will allow educators to feel valued and support their interest in working within the childcare sector. The opportunity to develop ELCC educators’ skills and knowledge will help to ensure the delivery of high quality, inclusive programming to our children. Greater access to wage enhancement and training may also contribute to increased confidence and workplace satisfaction amongst educators in order to help improve retention. The Department of Education will ensure that training and professional development opportunities are accessible to all ELCC centre staff, and that such opportunities are flexible and allow for the greatest amount of staff participation.

3. To support the delivery of ELCC programming in every community

In recognition of the benefits associated with ELCC programming and the need to ensure that such benefits are experienced equitably in all Nunavut communities, the Department of Education is committed to supporting regulated ELCC centres that are currently closed and inoperative or about to collapse without immediate support, with priority placed on those in underserved communities. The Department is committed to supporting all regulated operational centres in all communities to ensure that they remain open and have the resources they need in order to deliver effective programming.

The Department acknowledges the administrative challenges associated with overseeing an ELCC centre, notably in the area of financial management. Most childcare centres managers/directors are responsible for all financial matters without the support of bookkeepers. With the high turnover in management including high turnover in board of directors, many childcare centres fall apart financially resulting in closures. The Department has identified actions that will assist all ELCC centres to administer the operations of their programs more effectively and efficiently. This will provide support to those ELCC centres that have closed or are about to close due to financial struggles, so that they are in a position to reopen or stay open. These actions are in support of ensuring that ELCC programming is accessible in all communities across Nunavut.

4. To acknowledge and recognize the importance of ELCC and of ELCC educators

Development of the child during the formative years is crucial. For children attending an ELCC centre, the early childhood educator is one of the greatest resources affecting the child’s development. The Department of Education believes in the significant role played by early childhood educators and is committed to enhancing recognition of the value these educators have in the development of children. ELCC centres are struggling to retain skilled educators in a competitive workplace environment.

The Department recognizes this as a barrier to keeping childcare centres open. To address this, providing support to childcare centres to provide more of a competitive wage will support the retention of our valued ELCC educators. Acknowledging the valuable role that early childhood educators play not only benefits educators themselves, but also our children attending ELCC programs as they stand to receive programming from a more satisfied, confident and engaged educator. As educator retention improves, children will benefit from greater continuity and consistency in programming.

5. To promote and resource ELCC to enable and support greater use of Inuktut

Nunavut has 4 official languages, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, French and English. The Department of Education is committed to providing bilingual education and supporting the use of any of Nunavut’s languages of instruction. The Department of Education believes that exposure to language is ideally initiated at an early age, when the mind of a child is at its most receptive. Given this, the Department of Education recognizes the important role of ELCC in supporting the teaching and practice of Inuktut which is the first language of most Nunavummiut. The Department of Education is committed to providing greater support to ELCC centres in an effort to empower them to more fully integrate Inuktut into ELCC programming through creating the availability of educational resources needed to effectively promote Inuktut in the ELCC centres. Resources are not readily available in the Inuktut language or representing Nunavut’s culture, language or landscape. Therefore the creation of resources representing Nunavut culture and Inuktut language is a crucial for language and play based activities that represent children’s first language and surroundings. All resources created are translated into each of the 4 official languages and provided to childcare facilities in their choice of official language.

Overview of selected areas of investment

From the commitments and priorities outlined above, the fiscal year 2021 to 2022 to fiscal year 2024 to 2025 ELCC bilateral agreement envelope, and the fiscal year 2021 to 2022 workforce funding, will focus on the following priority areas of investment:

  • supporting and maintaining access to affordable ELCC programs and services through operations and maintenance funding supports and the retention and creation of childcare spaces in underserved communities
  • promoting high quality, inclusive ELCC programs and services through greater training and professional development opportunities of the ELCC workforce and the development of learning and teaching resources and programming materials in all of Nunavut’s official languages, for use in ELCC centres
  • supporting the recruitment, retention and stabilization of the ELCC workforce to maintain childcare facilities open to full capacity through operational funding
  • creation of a data base to develop the ability for further tracking and reporting on ELCC across Nunavut to support further growth and initiatives

Fiscal year 2021 to 2022 to fiscal year 2024 to 2025 ELCC bilateral agreement action plan initiatives

Note: This table was modified for accessibility reasons.

Table 2: Summary of bilateral agreement investments in Nunavut
Initiative name Indicators Targets by fiscal year 2021 to 2022 Targets by fiscal year 2024 to 2025* Investment for fiscal year 2021 to 2022 Total investment for fiscal year 2021 to 2022 to fiscal year 2024 to 2025**
1. Operations and maintenance funding and ELCC spaces
  • Supporting and maintaining access to affordable ELCC programs and services
  • Addressing the high operating costs of ELCC centres in Nunavut
  • Number of children who have access to childcare
  • Parent of (number) children have lower or maintained parental fees
  • Number and % of regulated child care centres that receive top up funding
  • Up to 1088 children have access to childcare
  • Parents of up to 1088 children benefit
  • 100% of regulated child care centres, up to 53 licensed regulated child care centres, receive support
  • To be confirmed
  • To be confirmed
  • To be confirmed
$1,505,537 $6,303,168
2. Child care retention/creation in underserved communities
  • Support child care centres at risk of financial closures or those closed previously as well as growth of additional childcare spaces
  • Number of centres supported, number of child care spaces supported in underserved communities accessing ELCC programs and services
  • Number of regulated childcare spaces maintained/created
  • 1 centre supported, representing up to 20 child care spaces
  • 20 child care spaces maintained or created
  • To be confirmed
  • To be confirmed
$100,000 $400,000
3. Training, professional development
  • Support the growth of early education and ELCC educators through specialized training opportunities
Number and proportion of ELCC staff accessing training and professional development opportunities 240 (80%) ELCC educators will attend specialized training to support their quality of care provided, and up to 301 educators will benefit indirectly To be confirmed $250,174 $1,097,306
4. Educational programming resources
  • Support the promotion of Inuktut in ELCC centres through the creation and delivery of resources based on Inuit culture and language
  • Number and percentage of children benefiting from resources that support Indigenous language and culturally appropriate ELCC
  • Number and proportion of ELCC centres implementing educational program resources and materials
  • 1088 (100%) children within childcare centres stand to benefit from receiving resources that represent Nunavut culture and Inuktut language
  • 53 licensed regulated child care centres (100%)
  • To be confirmed
  • To be confirmed
$561,423 $2,220,118

* Targets will be confirmed upon Nunavut’s submission of an updated action plan, as per the terms of the agreement and starting fiscal year 2022 to 2023.

** Subject to annual allocation based on updated population estimates outlined in section 4.2.4 of the agreement.

Note: This table was changed for accessibility reasons.

Table 3: Financial table
Initiative Fiscal year 2021 to 2022 Fiscal year 2022 to 2023 Fiscal year 2023 to 2024 Fiscal year 2024 to 2025 Total
Initiative 1 (ELCC spaces) $1,505,537 $1,585,877 $1,605,877 $1,605,877 $6,303,168
Initiative 2 (underserved communities) $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $400,000
Initiative 3 (training) $250,174 $274,720 $286,206 $286,206 $1,097,306
Initiative 4 (educational resources) $530,877 $555,423 $566,909 $566,909 $2,220,118
Carry forward funding from fiscal year 2020 to 2021 (educational programming resources) $30,546 (additional funding for initiative 4) N/A N/A N/A $30,546
Total $2,417,134 $2,516,020 $2,558,992 $2,558,992 $10,051,138

Description of initiatives under the ELCC bilateral agreement

Below is a description of the actions that the Department of Education will undertake in support of the identified areas of investment.

1. Operations and maintenance funding and ELCC spaces

Through the funding made available through the 2021 to 2025 ELCC bilateral agreement in support of the principles of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks, the Department will provide all regulated ELCC centres in Nunavut with increased funding to help with the costs associated with the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the centre. Funding under this agreement will continue to fund the only francophone centre in Nunavut.

Approximately $1.5 million, over and above what the GN currently allocates for O&M, will be provided to centres annually as per the following:

  • on average the larger childcare centers (20 or more licensed childcare spaces) are set to gain $38,645 per year of this action plan
  • on average the smaller centres (less than 20 licensed childcare spaces) are to gain $13,021 per year of this action plan
  • in order for centres to receive this O&M top-up funding, a stipulation will be outlined stating that if agreeing to receive this funding it must be used to maintain or lower parental fees

This funding will support ELCC centres to bridge the gap which exists between the amount of funding and revenue they generate and the cost of running their programs. This funding will help ELCC centres deliver affordable and more consistent programs and services to families with children enrolled in their centre.

As many as 53 licensed regulated childcare centres stand to benefit from this action. The parents of as many as 1,089 children stand to benefit from parent fees being maintained at the current level or lowered.

This action is in support of GN’s commitments 1, 3 and 4.

This action is in support of the Framework in that it serves to help ensure that childcare spaces are accessible and affordable because it supports the on-going operations of existing regulated facilities and allows for operational costs to more effectively be managed without increasing parent fees.

Funding provided through the ELCC envelope. Action investment value total for fiscal year 2021 to 2022: $1,505,537.

2. Child care space retention/creation in underserved communities

Through the funding made available through the 2021 to 2025 ELCC bilateral agreement in support of the principles of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks, the Department of Education will fund those ELCC centres, located in underserved communities, which have been closed and wish to reopen or are on the verge of closing without immediate support.

For facilities that have either closed or are about to close due to financial issues, approval of such funding support is contingent on the established ELCC staff participating in financial literacy/management training and the development of a strategic plan, in which the ECE staff and management will identify what measures will be taken to ensure that it does not encounter similar issues to those which originally led to the closure of the centre.

For facilities that have closed due to other reasons such as structural and deferred maintenance, this funding can be viewed as minor capital funding to increase the number of childcare spaces available in the territory.

This funding will be available on a first come, first served basis, and will prioritize supporting centres in underserved communities where few or no other ELCC centres are operational. The purpose of this funding is to support an increase in childcare spaces in underserved communities.

This funding could help up to 1 ELCC centre to either remain open with financial support or support 1 centre to reopen that has previously closed due to hardship per year of the agreement. This will support up to 20 childcare spaces per year of the agreement.

This action is in support of the framework because it strives to ensure that ELCC is accessible in every community, with emphasis on underserved communities.

Funding provided through the ELCC envelope. Action investment value total for fiscal year 2021 to 2022: $100,000.

3. Training, professional development and program materials: enhanced and specialized ELCC training sessions

Through the funding made available through the 2021 to 2025 ELCC bilateral agreement in support of the principles of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks, the Department of Education will plan and deliver ELCC Training and Professional Development sessions that meet the needs of childcare facilities across Nunavut. Through a variety of regionally or community-based training sessions, ELCC educators will be provided an opportunity to come together to share best practices, identify common challenges and issues, and access training, professional development and in-servicing opportunities. A variety of training sessions that relate to the growth and development of the ELCC educators will be facilitated. It is important to the Department to deliver training and professional development that addresses day to day operations of regulated childcare centres such as programming, child development, health and safety, etc., which will contribute to supporting high quality and inclusive programming.

Representatives from each of the 60 licensed regulated ELCC centres will be invited to attend training sessions in their community or region. This includes representatives from the French language ELCC centre in the territory. Participants will be expected to share any best practices and lessons learned from the training, professional development and in-servicing session with their colleagues upon return to their home community and ELCC centre.

It is anticipated that as many as 301 educators will benefit from the training sessions, 240 of which through direct participation, and the remaining through exposure from their colleagues upon return to the ELCC centre. As many as 1,088 children stand to benefit from higher quality, more inclusive programming as a result of educators accessing training and professional development from this action.

This action is in support of the Framework because it has an impact on the accessibility of ELCC programs and services and because it supports the provision of high quality, inclusive programming.

Funding provided through the ELCC envelope. Action investment value total for fiscal year 2021 to 2022: $250,174.

4. Educational programming resources and training

Through the funding made available through the 2021 to 2025 ELCC bilateral agreement in support of the principles of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks, the Department of Education will fund the development of standardized program materials to help support the delivery of consistent, high quality, instruction in ELCC. Resources will identify instructional methodologies, activities and themes to use and implement in the day-to-day delivery of programming. All resources will be available in all official languages and will reflect Nunavut, life in the North and the Inuit culture. These resources will also focus on approaches to program delivery which are inclusive in nature, as this is important to the Department and are in-keeping with the principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and consistent with the principles of the Framework.

Once developed, staff within the ELCC centres will be provided with training on the program resources. The Department will endeavor to ensure that training is provided regionally to allow for the greatest amount of participation amongst centre staff.

As many as 301 educators and 1,088 children stand to benefit from accessing the developed program materials and training of ELCC staff. Educators and children at the French language and Inuktut ELCC centres will benefit from this initiative. At least 2 packages of resources (books, manipulatives, teacher resources, etc.) will be created and delivered to all childcare facilities across Nunavut. Resources will be culturally relevant, and language based and translated into all of Nunavut’s official languages.

This action is in support of commitments 1, 2 and 4.

This action is in support of the Framework because it will lead to higher quality program and service delivery. Moreover, because the materials to be developed will focus on inclusive program delivery, this action is also in support for the Framework’s emphasis on inclusivity.

Funding provided through the ELCC envelope. Action investment value total for fiscal year 2021 to 2022: $561,423.

Fiscal year 2021 to 2022 workforce action plan initiatives

Note: This table was changed for accessibility reasons.

Table 4: Summary of fiscal year 2021 to 2022 workforce funding
Initiative name Indicators Targets by fiscal year 2021 to 2022 Total investment for fiscal year 2021 to 2022
1. ELCC workforce recruitment and retention
  • Support and retain early childhood educators
  • Decrease the number of childcare spaces that are not accessible due to lack of ELCC educators within childcare facilities
  • 100% of ELCC educators supported
  • Number of centres benefiting
  • Target of 100% of ELCC educators (up to 301) supported
  • Target of up to 53 licensed regulated childcare centres benefiting
$2,544,278
2. Database
  • To create new innovative tools to support and understand the needs of childcare centres across the territory
The creation of a ELCC database The creation of a database to be used for tracking information about all childcare centres for inspections, gather information with the intent of supporting future endeavors to support the growth of ELCC in the territory $282,698
Table 5: Financial table
Initiative Fiscal year 2021 to 2022
Initiative 1 (recruitment and retention) $2,544,278
Initiative 2 (administrative fees: database) $282,698
Total $2,826,976

Description of initiatives under workforce funding

1. ELCC workforce recruitment and retention

Identified in the Fall Economic Statement, November 30, 2020, Canada has committed to supporting provinces and territories to support the attraction and retention of an ELCC workforce. A one-time contribution agreement will be offered to regulated childcare facilities to support an ELCC workforce recruitment and retention strategy. Federal funding will be directed towards the operational expenses of programs to further support and retain early childhood educators. It is anticipated that up to 301 educators will be supported. Educators who are supported under this program include Francophone educators who work in the French-language ELCC centre in the territory.

ELCC educators are among the lowest paying positions in the territory and with high costs of living educators cannot afford employment within the childcare sector. Many who start work within childcare centres move on quickly for higher paying jobs with less physical, emotional and mental demands. Currently many childcare centres are closing their doors daily or reducing the number of children in their care due to lack of educators. Federal funding will be directed towards operational funding, to recruit and retain early childhood educators in fiscal year 2021 to 2022 and help the rebuilding of the ELCC workforce.

This funding will support ELCC facilities to bridge the gap which exists between the amount of funding and revenue they generate and the cost of running their programs. This funding will help ELCC facilities deliver affordable and more consistent programs and services to families with children enrolled in their facility. This will contribute to supporting regulated childcare centres to stabilize their educators within their centres which will provide children an opportunity for high quality and educational childcare.

It is anticipated that as many as 301 ELCC educators will benefit from additional federal support and continue to stay employed with their childcare centre. Funding will be provided through operational expenses of programs, but as an example, ELCC centres that agree to enter into a contribution agreement could provide educators an additional $4 to $5 per hour top up wage enhancement. As many as 53 licensed regulated childcare centres are anticipated to enter into a funded contribution agreement to support their need to recruit and retain ELCC educators.

This action is in support of commitments: 1, 2 and 4.

This action is in support of the Framework because it has an impact on quality and accessibility of ELCC programs and services and because it supports the ELCC educators who directly support the commitment of providing high quality childcare.

Funding provided through the ELCC workforce action. Investment value total in fiscal year 2021 to 2022: $2,544,278.

2. ELCC database (administrative funding)

Identified in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, the long-term vision of providing the foundation for governance and understanding of ELCC across the territory is a priority. To further the development of early learning and childcares there needs to be a base understanding where ELCC educators and childcare centres stand. To do so, a data base system will allow the department to gather detailed information to be rolled together to show a full picture of ELCC across the territory. Nunavut is made of 25 very unique communities which does not create an easy ground-based understanding of the true uniqueness to ELCC in Nunavut. The creation of a data base to collect evidence and develop a better understanding will allow the department to meet the needs of childcare centres and ELCC educators.

It is anticipated that the development of the data base will be created with training component embedded for the departmental staff. The objective is to have the ability to collect and have base information data entered for further evidence and understanding of ELCC in Nunavut, such as information collected through inspections.

Funding provided through the ELCC Workforce Action. Investment value total in fiscal year 2021 to 2022: $282,698.

Section B: Describes how Nunavut plans to address the early learning and childcare needs of its families more in need

A case could be made that Nunavut, with the youngest population in the country, has some of the greatest need for increased funding in the area of ELCC. According to the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics, Nunavut’s total population in 2016 was 37,082 of which, 31,234 or 84.2% identified as being Inuit. In that same year, children aged 0 to 4 accounted for just over 11% of Nunavut’s total population, the largest age cohort in the territory. Further still, in 2016, children aged 5 to 9 represented just under 11% of Nunavut’s total population. Overall, children aged 0 to 14 accounted for close to 31% of Nunavut’s population in 2016 where the Canadian average for this age cohort was 16.1%. Moreover, Nunavut’s fertility rate in 2016 was 2.99 according to Statistics Canada, close to double that of the Canadian average which was 1.54.

Educational attainment is often considered a significant predictor of employment and as a result, linked to economic prosperity. Where it concerns educational attainment, the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics reports Nunavut’s 2017 graduation rate at 47.7%, which is below the national average. As per Statistics Canada, in 2018 nearly 58% of Canadians aged 25 to 64 have completed some form of post-secondary education compared with just over 34% for Nunavut.

In terms of economic indicators, according to Statistics Canada, Nunavut’s median total income by family was the lowest in the country in 2017 at $74,450. The Canadian average for that same year was $84,950. Further still, the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics reports that some 14,488 Nunavummiut received income assistance in 2018, which represented 49.7% of the population at that time.

Nunavut is the only Canadian province or territory not accessible by road at any point in the year. All 25 of Nunavut’s communities are fly-in accessible only. This lack of access and considerable degree of remoteness and reliant on airline cargo and flights has significant logistical and financial implications on numerous aspects of life in Nunavut. From everyday necessities such as food to building supplies and the recruitment of specialized staff, much of what is needed in Nunavut must be flown in from southern Canada and this drives up costs considerably. For instance, in its 2016 Nunavut Food Price Survey, the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics reported that the cost of food in Nunavut is roughly twice as high as the Canadian average.

Sharing knowledge and information is further impeded in Nunavut by poor telecommunications infrastructure which limits the ability to take advantage of technology that would permit the use of video conferencing and webinars when endeavoring to provide training and in-servicing. Such training and in-servicing activities are once again only possible through air travel which is costly.

The result of Nunavut’s remoteness on the delivery of ELCC programs and services is such that the cost of establishing, operating and maintaining ELCC centres is staggeringly high. In addition to these high costs, developing and maintaining infrastructure is often extremely challenging because of an insufficient supply of building materials and contractors. The high cost of operating ELCC programs, coupled with a very large, young population, places a considerable burden on Nunavut’s ELCC system. It is for these reasons that investments in this area are needed.

Given Nunavut’s unique circumstances and context, as presented above, the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Education is of the opinion that all of Nunavut is “more in need” when it comes to accessing high quality ELCC programs and services. Because the vast majority of Nunavummiut are indigenous, minority language speakers (in the context of Canada) and non-affluent, the actions and investments outlined in this action plan do not target specific groups within Nunavut’s population. Rather, Nunavut’s action plan focuses on ensuring an equitable distribution of high quality, accessible, affordable, flexible and inclusive ELCC programs in all of Nunavut’s communities, with emphasis on those communities where no operational ELCC program currently exists. The actions constituting Nunavut’s action plan were developed through this lens.

Section C: Outlines their planned innovation spending

Recalling the information provided in Section B, Nunavut has endeavored to find innovative approaches to investing in ELCC through the funding made available in support of the Framework.

Access to training and professional development opportunities for ELCC staff is quite limited within Nunavut. Because of Nunavut’s remoteness, Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) is the sole provider of early childhood educator training; however, programming offered through NAC is not available in all communities nor on a regular basis. While distance education opportunities may exist in this program area, significant bandwidth limitations mean that such opportunities are generally not available to educators in Nunavut. Because of the constraints found in Nunavut, notably in relation to the issues of remoteness and communication infrastructure needs discussed above, the Department of Education believes that a variety of community based or regional ELCC training and professional development sessions is an innovative approach to delivering training and professional development opportunities to ELCC centre staff in all communities.

Where it concerns the retention and creation of childcare spaces, opening new ELCC centres and keeping centres operating is a challenging endeavor in Nunavut. This is the case because all ELCC centres are run by not-for-profit societies which require members of the public to volunteer their time to serve on the board of the society. Such board positions are not easily filled as the members of the public with interest and knowledge to serve in this capacity are often overtaxed by serving on numerous boards within the community setting. Given this, societies often struggle to fill their board seats or address the high turnover of board members.

Compounding this issue is the tremendous challenge of developing suitable infrastructure in Nunavut. In addition to the cost associated with such projects, which is several times higher than that found in southern Canada, other logistical barriers exist such as an insufficient supply of contractors and building materials. Also, as discussed elsewhere in this action plan, Nunavut’s allocated ELCC bilateral funding would barely put a dent in the cost of creating additional childcare spaces through the development of new ELCC centres, in new facilities.

In an effort to find an innovative solution to creating additional childcare spaces in Nunavut, the Department has identified an opportunity to help support those ELCC centres that are no longer operational and to re-open them to create additional childcare spaces in underserved communities as well as support centres who are high risk of closing and decreasing the number of childcare spaces. Such centres often close because of financial mismanagement and may not be able to keep their doors open to children without significant funding support.

The Department believes that these at-risk centres, as well as centres who have previously closed, are well positioned to re-open because they may have several of the necessary supports and requirements already in place, such as a building in which to operate, a board to administer the centre and a client base. Creating additional and securing current childcare spaces using existing facilities presents significant time and cost savings. As such, the Department of Education believes that supporting closed centres is an innovative approach to making the most effective use of the resources available in an otherwise resource scarce area, for the sake of creating greater access to ELCC.

Section D: Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental and will not displace existing territorial early learning and childcare spending, in particular spending dedicated to Indigenous populations

Education is a top priority of the GN. As articulated in Turaaqtavut, the GN is committed to providing education and training that prepares children, youth and adults for positive contributions to society and for meaningful employment through Sivummuaqpalliajjutivut. Turaaqtavut is the name of the mandate document that was adopted in February 2018 to guide the Government of Nunavut’s work. One of the 5 main priorities identified in Turaaqtavut is Sivummuaqpalliajjutivut, we will provide education and training that prepares children, youth and adults for positive contributions to society and for meaningful employment.The GN is equally committed to supporting the delivery of educational programming which is consistent with the principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) and supports the promotion and use of all of Nunavut’s official languages.

The Government of Nunavut, through the Department of Education, is committed to maintaining this current level of investment and all funding received from the Government of Canada in support of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks will be supplemental to that which is already allocated towards ELCC in Nunavut.

Section E: Identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the agreement

As funding will be provided to 100% of eligible centres (regulated childcare centres), as many as 53 licensed regulated ELCC centres and the parents of as many as 1,088 children stand to benefit from the funding associated with the operations and maintenance top-up funding in each year of the action plan.

Through the funding associated with the child care space retention/creation in underserved communities action, the Department is targeting centres at risk or have the ability to reopen thus maintaining/increasing the total number of childcare spaces in the territory by as many as 20 in each year of the action plan.

In terms of the ELCC training and professional development sessions, the Department is targeting the participation of 80% (or 53 licensed regulated ELCC centres) of all centres. This would translate into reaching 240 ELCC staff directly and a further 61 staff indirectly, through the sharing of lessons learned and best practices. 1,088 children stand to benefit as a result of this action based on the participation rate identified above.

Federal funding will also be directed towards the operational expenses of programs to further support and retain Early Childhood Educators. The Department is targeting support to 100% of ELCC educators in 53 licensed regulated of childcare centres, thus 301 of staff stand to benefit from this action.

Where it concerns the development of educational programming resources and providing training, the Department is developing culturally and linguistically appropriate resources. The Department is targeting the provision of training on the developed resource to 80% of ELCC centres thus, 53 licensed regulated childcare centres, 301 staff and 1,088 children stand to benefit from this action.

Section F: Identifies additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the agreement

The development of a data base will allow for growth in the ability for tracking progress and future initiatives to support the growth of ELCC in Nunavut.

Section G: A description of consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback

In 2017, the Department of Education identified the need to consult with a range of partners and stakeholders to capture unique perspectives on ELCC in Nunavut to develop an ELCC action plan.

The partner and stakeholder organizations consulted included:

  • ELCC centres from each of the regional hubs of Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit
  • non-governmental organizations such as Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the Regional Inuit Associations (RIAs), the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities (DEAs), the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth and the Language Commissioner’s office
  • Government of Nunavut officials from the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Family Services

Representatives from each of the organizations identified above were invited to take part in regional consultation sessions or interviews. Face-to-face sessions were held in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet and interviews were conducted by telephone in Cambridge Bay.

Consultations focused on the identification of ELCC priorities, areas of need and investment opportunities in support of the identified priorities and areas of need.

Summary of feedback

While the range of partners and stakeholders involved in consultations was rather broad, the input received through consultations was quite focused and consistent. Repeatedly, the same priorities, areas of need and investment opportunities were articulated. A summary of the consultation findings is found below:

  • the most commonly identified ELCC priorities in Nunavut included:
    • increasing the number of childcare spaces
    • enhancing ELCC employee retention
    • ensuring that programming is resourced adequately to ensure quality and linguistic and cultural appropriateness
    • ensuring that ELCC programs are safe, enriching environments for children
    • acknowledging the significant role of ELCC and specifically that of the early childhood educator
  • the most commonly identified areas of need in relation to ELCC in Nunavut included:
    • supporting ELCC staff training (including financial literacy training for managers and boards)
    • addressing ELCC staff retention and low compensation
    • standardizing program materials, resources and supports in all official languages
    • supporting greater use of the Inuit Language
    • addressing infrastructure needs: major capital funding for new facilities and minor capital funds for maintenance of existing facilities
    • providing greater access to specialist services (for example, speech language pathologists)
  • the most commonly recommended investments included:
    • offering a wage enhancement program for ELCC staff, linked to training and professional development
    • developing educational programming resources in all official languages to support a more consistent, standardized approach to quality program delivery
    • holding a territory-wide ELCC conference so that all ELCC centres can come together to access training opportunities, share best practices and discuss common challenges and issues
    • hiring additional GN ELCC staff to provide training in the ELCC centres on an on-going basis
    • increasing access to major capital funding to increase the number of childcare spaces available
    • increasing access to minor capital funding to help address maintenance issues within existing ELCC centres
    • developing an early assessment tool for Nunavut

How and why investments were prioritized

The Department of Education recognizes the variety of worthy investment opportunities that were identified during the consultations; however, the reality is that resources are limited and so too must be the areas in which investments are made.

The Federal Government bilateral agreement allocation is in support of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks and this associated action plan. When considering the areas of investments and actions to comprise this plan, the Department of Education is considering the following factors:

  • the amount of funding available
  • the goals of the Multilateral and Indigenous ELCC Frameworks
  • the existing funding supports provided by the Department of Education and other GN entities
  • the funding provided through non-GN entities (for example, the Regional Inuit Associations)

It should be noted that increasing the number of childcare spaces across the territory, and especially in the regional centres of Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit, was identified as the number 1 priority and most significant area of need in Nunavut. Despite this, most partners and stakeholders also identified that the federal funding is inadequate to address this priority and area of need. This is due to the fact that the infrastructure needs associated with developing childcare spaces in Nunavut are significantly higher than in other jurisdictions. The cost of developing spaces in Nunavut is such that this entire amount of funding could easily be used in 1 community, leaving little to distribute to the rest of the territory, and this would not be equitable.

With these factors in mind, the Department endeavored to target the priorities and areas of need brought to light during consultations that would not result in a duplication of efforts with existing Department of Education funding programs.

Annex 3: Early childhood workforce funding for fiscal year 2021 to 2022

Early childhood workforce funding for fiscal year 2021 to 2022

Whereas, Canada and Nunavut agree that the early childhood workforce is integral to providing high-quality ELCC.

Whereas, the Multilateral ELCC Framework is based on 5 key principles, one of which is ensuring ELCC systems are of high quality.

Whereas, the Multilateral ELCC Framework recognizes the importance of qualifications and training for the early childhood workforce as part of a high quality ELCC system.

Now therefore, the Parties agree as follows.

1.0 Purpose

1.1 Canada and Nunavut agree that for fiscal year 2021 to 2022 only, a one-time financial support from Canada to Nunavut will be used support the recruitment and retention of the early childhood workforce.

2.0 Area of focus

2.1 Nunavut agrees to utilize funding in licensed/regulated settings to support the attraction and retention of a qualified workforce, including through training, professional development, wages, bursary programs, tuition support and grants.

2.2 For greater clarity, activities that may support the objective of attracting and retaining a qualified workforce include but are not limited to: providing employment and training supports, lowering the cost of education for those seeking their early childhood educator degree/certificate, supporting the workforce in providing quality ELCC, and improving the ability to provide support to families more in need, including lower-income families; Indigenous families; lone-parent families; families with children with disabilities and children needing enhanced or individual supports; Black and racialized children; families from Official Language Minority Communities; families in underserved communities; and/or those working non-standard hours. Needs also include having limited or no access to programs and services in the children's official language.

2.3 Nunavut may use up to 10% of its workforce funding allocation towards administration costs.

3.0 Financial provisions

3.1 In fiscal year 2021 to 2022, to be paid concurrently with the contribution provided under section 4.2. of the agreement, Canada has designated the following maximum amount 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 child (0 to 12) basis:

  1. $420,000,000 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2021

3.2 The final amount to be paid to Nunavut is determined by the formula, F x K/L, where:

  • F is the total funding amount transferred to provinces and territories minus the base funding
  • K is the population of children aged 0 to 12 in Nunavut in fiscal year 2021 to 2022, as determined using population estimates from Statistics Canada
  • L is the total population of children aged 0 to 12 in Canada in fiscal year 2021 to 2022, as determined using population estimates from Statistics Canada

3.3 Subject to adjustment based on the formula described in section 3.2 of this annex, Nunavut’s estimated share of the amount described in section 3.1 (a) of this annex will be:

Table 6: Estimated amount to be paid to Nunavut
Fiscal year Estimated amount to be paid to Nunavut (subject to adjustment)
2021 to 2022 $2,826,976

For the purposes of the formula in section 3.2 of this annex, the population of children aged 0 to 12 in Nunavut for the fiscal year 2021 to 2022 and the population of children aged 0 to 12 in all provinces and territories for that fiscal year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1st of that fiscal year. These estimates are released by Statistics Canada in September of each fiscal year.

3.4 Sections 4.5.1 to 4.5.5 of the agreement, respecting carry forward, apply to funds provided under this annex.

4.0 Accountability

4.1 Action plan

4.1.1 In addition to the requirements outlined in the agreement under section 5.1, for fiscal year 2021 to 2022, Nunavut agrees to include the following additional information in the action plan (as set out in annex 2) for that fiscal year:

  1. specific priority areas for investment and objectives in supporting the recruitment and retention of the early childhood workforce in Nunavut
  2. demonstrate that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Nunavut spending in support of the early childhood workforce
  3. indicators that will be reported on according to Nunavut’s planned investments in the workforce
  4. specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on according to Nunavut’s planned investments

4.2 Reporting

4.2.1 In addition to the requirements outlined in the agreement under section 5.2, for fiscal year 2021 to 2022, Nunavut agrees to:

  1. report to the people of Nunavut and to Canada on the results and expenditures to support the recruitment and retention of the early childhood workforce. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this annex
  2. provide to Canada additional information in the annual report for that year that shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this annex and shall include:
    1. a description of the activities, expenditures and results of annex 3 of the agreement as set out in annex 2
    2. results achieved according to the indicators and targets referred to in annex 2
    3. the number of early childhood workforce staff (current and/or planned) supported by federal funding provided under this annex including a description of how they were supported
    4. a description of the increase in recruitment and/or retention of the early childhood workforce in fiscal year 2021 to 2022
  3. provide to Canada an audited financial statement of revenues received from Canada under this annex in fiscal year 2021 to 2022:
    1. the revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this annex in fiscal year 2021 to 2022
    2. the total expenditures under this annex in fiscal year 2021 to 2022
    3. if applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.6 of the agreement
  4. The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the Nunavut Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of Nunavut and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.
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