Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

On this page

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 the province of Saskatchewan (hereinafter referred to as “Saskatchewan” or “Government of Saskatchewan”) as represented by the Minister of Education herein referred to as “the provincial Minister”)

Referred to collectively as the “Parties”

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and Saskatchewan 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 Government Administration Act authorizes the provincial Minister to enter in agreements with the Government of Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding towards costs incurred by the Government of Saskatchewan for the provision of early learning and child care programs and services;

Whereas, Saskatchewan has lead responsibility and jurisdiction for the design, delivery, implementation and provision of early learning and child care programs and services in the province;

Whereas, Saskatchewan’s plan is informed by and responsive to existing provincial strategies including the Saskatchewan Early Years Plan 2016 to 2020, the Education Sector Strategic Plan, the Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy;

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;

Whereas, Saskatchewan will continue to work to support the achievement of positive early childhood outcomes related to Indigenous children and families within the context of their jurisdictional responsibilities.

Now therefore, Canada and Saskatchewan agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, Saskatchewan 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, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, towards achieving the objectives of:

Inclusivity – through new pilots for preschool children experiencing disabilities

Minority language inclusion – expand Francophone child care

Quality-focused initiatives – that help early learning and child care operators provide play-based, developmentally appropriate programs

Increased access to programs for families – by adding 2,515 new licensed child care spaces that are eligible for Saskatchewan’s Child Care Subsidy

Saskatchewan’s approach towards early learning and child care and to achieving these objectives is set out in their Action Plan attached as Annex 2.

2.2 Eligible areas of investment

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

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

2.2.2 In developing and delivering its early learning and child care programs and services, Saskatchewan agrees to take into account the needs of Canada’s official minority language communities in Saskatchewan.

2.2.3 Types of investments include: capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care, fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for the early childhood workforce, quality assurance, parents information and referral, and administration costs incurred by Saskatchewan in implementing and administering this Agreement.

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

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 Saskatchewan in accordance with the terms in section 10. In accordance with section 4, funding provided under this Agreement 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 the period 2020-2021 to 2027-2028 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement. Funding for future years will be provided upon the renewal of bilateral agreements conditional on Canada’s acceptance of new Action Plans and informed by the assessment of the results achieved under the Action Plan set out in Annex 2.

3.2.2 The renewal will provide Saskatchewan 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.

3.2.3 In the event this bilateral agreement is renewed in accordance with the terms of section 3.2.1, Saskatchewan may continue to use funding provided thereunder to cover the same eligible areas of investment as those covered through funding received for the period 2017-2018 to 2019-2020, subject to the terms and conditions of that renewed agreement.

4. Financial provisions

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

4.2 Allocation to Saskatchewan

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 million for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2017
  2. $399,347,695 million for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2018
  3. $399,347,695 million 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, Saskatchewan’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal year Estimated amount to be paid to Saskatchewan (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $13,848,167
2018-2019 $13,837,957
2019-2020 $13,837,957
  • ** Amounts represent annual estimates based on July 2017 population numbers.

Canada commits that the annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2020-2021 to 2027-2028 will be no less than the annual allocation for all provinces and territories of this current agreement under the conditions set in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3 The final yearly amount to be paid to Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan, 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 Saskatchewan for each fiscal year and the total population of all provinces and territories for that fiscal year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the quarterly preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1, of that fiscal year. These estimates are released by Statistics Canada in September of each fiscal year.

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

4.3.1 Eligibility

Saskatchewan is eligible for the funding under this agreement as follows:

  • for 2017-2018 funding, upon signing this agreement; and,
  • for the 2018-19 and future years’ funding, upon providing to the federal government the audited financial statement for the previous fiscal year in accordance with 5.2.2(d)

4.4 Payment

4.4.1 Canada’s contribution will be paid in approximately equal semi-annual 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 within 30 days of the parties signing this agreement or 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% of the notional amount of Canada’s maximum contribution to Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan of the actual increased or decreased amount of the second installment in each fiscal year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.3 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.4.

Canada shall withhold payment of its second installment for the fiscal year if Saskatchewan has failed to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous fiscal year in accordance with section 5.2.2 (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 Saskatchewan’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% of the maximum amount payable for those fiscal years.

4.6 Carry forward

4.6.1 At the request of Saskatchewan and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Saskatchewan may retain and carry forward to fiscal year 2018-2019, an amount of up to 50% of the contribution paid to Saskatchewan for fiscal year 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Saskatchewan in that fiscal year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2018-2019 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that fiscal year.

4.6.2 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to fiscal year 2018-2019 under section 4.6.1. is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Saskatchewan 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. Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Saskatchewan may retain and carry forward to fiscal year 2019-2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to Saskatchewan for fiscal year 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Saskatchewan 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 section 4.6.4. is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Saskatchewan 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. Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan exceed the amount to which Saskatchewan 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 written notice to do so and within the period specified in the notice.

4.7.2 In the event that the second installment payment made to Saskatchewan is determined to be less than the amount to which Saskatchewan is owed under the terms of section 4, Canada agrees to pay to Saskatchewan the amount determined to be outstanding upon receipt of written notice to do so and within the period specified in the notice.

4.8 Use of funds

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

4.8.2 In the event that the annual funding allocation for each individual programming category as described in the Action Plan set out in Annex 2 is not fully utilized within the fiscal year, Saskatchewan may move the funding between categories to ensure the maximum use of funding. In this instance, Saskatchewan agrees to notify Canada in writing accompanied by an explanation or rationale for this change in funding allocation.

5. Accountability

5.1 Action Plan

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

  1. Identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, which builds 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 Saskatchewan 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 and Indigenous populations;
  3. Outlines their planned innovation spending;
  4. Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Saskatchewan early learning and child care spending, including 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. May identify additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement; and
  8. Includes a description of consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.2, the type of groups consulted and outcomes of the engagement.

5.1.2 Saskatchewan will consult with provincial stakeholders which may include 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 The parties agree that, where they appear in this Agreement, the words “consult”, “consulted” and “consultation” are not used for the purposes of fulfilling the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate with First Nation and Métis communities and that nothing in this agreement is intended to derogate or abrogate from the Crown’s legal duty to consult and accommodate.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 As soon as available in 2017-2018, Saskatchewan agrees to provide all available data on the agreed-to indicators.

5.2.2 Beginning in 2018-2019 and by no later than October 1 of the subsequent fiscal year during the Period of this Agreement, Saskatchewan agrees to:

  1. Report to the people of Saskatchewan and to Canada on the results and expenditures of early learning and child care programs and services. 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, and the people of Saskatchewan and Canada, an annual report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and Saskatchewan showing the results of the Action Plan as outlined in Annex 2 and as described in 5.1.1. 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-Saskatchewan 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. 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, the type of groups consulted and outcomes of the engagement referred to in Annex 2; and
    6. Any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the fiscal year, as available.
  4. Provide to Canada the reports and financial statements required for each fiscal year covered by this agreement, approved by an individual duly authorized by Saskatchewan.
    1. Saskatchewan shall provide the financial statements and reports in the manner it considers to be most appropriate to its particular circumstances to meet the requirements set out in this section.
    2. The revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this Agreement during the fiscal year.
    3. The total amount of funding used for ELCC programs and services under section 3.2.
    4. The administration costs incurred by Saskatchewan in developing and administering ELCC programs under section 3.2.3.
    5. If applicable, the amount of any amount carried forward by Saskatchewan under section 4.6.
    6. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.7.
    7. If, following presentation of such information, there is a need, in the opinion of Canada, to clarify and determine the relevance of the information provided in the financial statements and reports, Saskatchewan agrees to hold discussions with Canada.
    8. Saskatchewan agrees to keep accounts and documents up to date and in due form on receipts and expenditures related to the content of this agreement, including all related invoices, receipts and useful supporting documents. For the purposes of this agreement, Saskatchewan shall retain all financial accounts, source documents and other useful documents for a period of at least five (5) years.

The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Public Sector Accounting Standards. In the event a financial audit is deemed necessary within a period of up to five (5) years after the end of this agreement, Canada and Saskatchewan agree that it would be conducted by the Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan or their delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of Saskatchewan and shall be conducted in accordance with Public Sector Accounting Standards.

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

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, Saskatchewan may evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement and will make them available to Canada.

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and Saskatchewan agree to work together to support this Framework. This may include sharing and releasing 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 Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan 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 and mutually agreed upon credit and visibility when investments financed through funds granted under this Agreement are announced to the public.

7.3 Canada and Saskatchewan agree to work together with a federal-provincial/territorial Communications Committee that will meet, either in person or via teleconference, quarterly. The Communication Committee is intended as a collaborative role to provide support with the application of the Communication Protocol related to communications, promotion and joint-announcement opportunities specific to the Framework, bilateral agreement, results of the investments of the Agreement and related milestones. The Communication Committee will comprise representatives from Canada (Employment and Social Development Canada and other interested departments) and from Saskatchewan. Either Party may table agenda items.

7.4 For the purposed visual identity, Canada’s identification are to be determined by Canada and Saskatchewan’s identification is to be determined by Saskatchewan. The mutually agreed upon visual identity decided by the Communications Committee will be applied to all communications materials going forward.

7.5 Canada agrees to give Saskatchewan 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.6 Saskatchewan 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.

7.7 Saskatchewan will make best efforts to require service providers, funded under this Agreement, to display federal identification to recognize that the programs and services provided receive Canada’s financial assistance.

7.8 Saskatchewan agrees that promotional communications to all groups receiving funding through this Agreement (for example, child care centres, regulated family child care homes, early learning centres, preschools and nursery schools, businesses, associations, unions, training institutions, universities, colleges, and career colleges) will include federal identification and recognize Canada’s financial assistance.

7.9 Canada will provide a mutually agreed upon standard letter to Saskatchewan for use in notifying all recipients of funding from this Agreement, to include federal and Saskatchewan identification and recognize Canada’s financial assistance. Parties may collectively agree on an alternate version that appropriately identifies and recognizes both Parties.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan 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 Saskatchewan, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and Saskatchewan 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 of Canada and Saskatchewan most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the federal Minister and provincial Minister shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9. 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, in the case of Canada, by the federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, and in the case of Saskatchewan, by the provincial Minister.

10. Termination

10.1 Canada or Saskatchewan may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by the other party by giving at least six months written notice of its intention to terminate.

10.2 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 10.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to Saskatchewan.

11. Equality of treatment

11.1 During the term of this Agreement, if another province or territory, except the province of Quebec, which is not part of the 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 Saskatchewan, 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 Saskatchewan, if requested by Saskatchewan. This includes any provision of the bilateral agreement except for the Financial Provisions set out under section 4.0. This amendment shall be retroactive to the date on which the Early Learning and Child Care agreement or the amendment to such an agreement with the other province or territory, as the case may be, comes into force.

11.2 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.

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 QC  K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to Saskatchewan shall be:

Ministry of Education
5th Floor 2220 College Ave
Regina SK  S4P 4V9

13. General

13.1 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 Saskatchewan.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of Saskatchewan 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 in Gatineau on February 27.

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

Signed on behalf of Saskatchewan by the Minister of Education in Regina on March 5.

The Honourable Gordon Wyant, 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 agreeFootnote 1 on the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children. For more details on this agreement, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: Saskatchewan Action Plan

The 2016 Federal Budget committed $400 million starting in 2017-2018 to support the establishment of the Multilateral Early Learning Child Care Framework with the provinces and territories. The 2017 Federal Budget committed an additional $7 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018-2019. A portion of this investment will be dedicated to early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children living on- and off-reserveFootnote 2. Saskatchewan’s portion of this federal funding, agreed to under the terms of the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, will be:

Fiscal year Estimated amount to be paid to Saskatchewan (subject to annual population adjustments)
2017-2018 $13,848,167
2018-2019 $13,837,957*
2019-2020 $13,837,957*
  • * Amounts represent annual estimates based on 2017 Statistics Canada population estimates.

Saskatchewan’s focus on the early years

Saskatchewan uses an integrated approach to early learning and child care. Saskatchewan recognizes that high quality care and holistic, play-based approaches are most conducive for supporting the development of young children.

Saskatchewan recognizes the importance of investing in young children and families, and has invested record amounts of money into early learning and childcare within the last five years. This investment was based on research which indicates that each stage of a child’s early years contributes to his or her future. When social, physical, emotional and intellectual development is nurtured, children are better equipped to reach their full potential.

Saskatchewan has experienced significant growth in the number of children living in the province and now has the youngest population in Canada. In 2017, 6.6% of the population was aged four and under compared to Canada at 5.3%. The number of 0-4 year olds (currently 77,120), is projected to reach 79,600 in Saskatchewan by 2020, representing 6.8% of the total population (1,171,700), an increase of 3,700 more children (or a 3.2% increase in 0-4 year olds).

Saskatchewan has a significant Indigenous population. In 2015, 28% of the population aged zero to four was made up of First Nations and Métis children. This group of children is growing at a faster rate than non-First Nations and Métis children. Saskatchewan also has a significant and vibrant Francophone culture and heritage. According to the 2016 Census, 1.4% of the population had a mother tongue that was French. Saskatchewan also continues to see an increase in the total number of immigrants moving to the province, including the recent influx of Syrian refugees. As a result, ensuring that all children receive the best possible start is a key priority for our province, both today and into the future.

Saskatchewan’s Early Learning and Child Care sector

Saskatchewan licenses three types of child care facilities:

  • Child Care Centres – must be licensed by the province in order to operate. Centres serve a large number of children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years and can be licensed for up to 90 children. Centres are most often operated by a non-profit or cooperative overseen by a board of directors. Parents are highly involved in decisions made at these facilities.
  • Group Family Child Care Homes – must be licensed by the province in order to operate. The individual operating the home is licensed to provide care for a maximum of 12 children of specific ages, and must have an assistant caregiver when there are more than eight children in attendance.
  • Licensed Family Child Care Homes – an individual licensed to provide child care services in their home, for up to eight children with specified age limits.

Since 2007, there has been an increase of 5,824 spaces or a 63% increase in the allocated licensed early learning and child care spaces in the province. As of September 2017, the province had 16,188 licensed child care spaces. These spaces were in 329 licensed child care centres and 232 licensed group and family child care homes.

In 2017-2018, Saskatchewan invested $55.8 million through the Ministry of Education for licensed early learning and child care. This funding comes in the form of grants which assist with the costs of developing and operating non-profit child care services. The provincial government licenses and monitors the safety and quality of programming in licensed child care homes and centres. It also provides research, information, education and consultative supports to individuals and communities to assist in identifying or developing child care services. The province also follows-up on complaints in parent-monitored environments, which include private family child care arrangements, community preschools and before-and-after school programs.

Saskatchewan addresses the affordability of licensed child care through the Child Care Subsidy, which is delivered by the Ministry of Social Services. Families apply to the Ministry of Social Services for the Child Care Subsidy, which is calculated on a sliding scale based on a family’s income. To be eligible for the program, families must use a licensed child care facility and must be employed, going to school or have special health needs. The Ministry of Social Services invested $12.9 million in 2017-18 through the Child Care Subsidy to help approximately 2,580 children with the costs of licensed child care.

In addition to the $55.8 million in child care investments, Saskatchewan has invested $20.1 million in 2017-2018 in 316 regulated Prekindergarten programs targeted to vulnerable three- and four-year olds. This funding is provided in the form of conditional funding to school divisions, and lays out expectations for teacher qualifications, program guidelines and educator-to-child ratios. Additional funding is provided to school divisions specifically for Prekindergarten students for transportation, school-based support and other expenses totaling $7.2 million for an altogether total of $27.3M. The program is co-located in Saskatchewan schools and is targeted to vulnerable children and communities based on factors such as lower income, lone or teen parents, exposure to abuse, lower parental education levels and communication, language, social or emotional delays or difficulties. Since 2008, Saskatchewan has made significant investment in Prekindergarten, more than doubling the number of programs. In 2008, there were 155 programs serving 2,480 children and this grew to 316 programs serving approximately 5,056 children in 2017.

A play-based approach

Saskatchewan uses Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide as its foundational curriculum to guide quality practice and approaches in the sector. The guide lays out the principles of holistic, responsive and developmentally appropriate early learning and child care programs. High quality programs focus on the healthy development of the whole child – social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual development. These programs engage children and their families through healthy, safe, culturally sensitive and stimulating programs that promote children’s abilities and interests. Saskatchewan’s vision is that all programs will reflect the vision, principles and quality elements described in the Play and Exploration curriculum, which has the flexibility to adapt to the particular needs of children and families they serve and the community context in which they operate.

Federal investments support Saskatchewan’s strategic priorities

Saskatchewan is committed to maintaining current investment levels for early learning and child care. Investments made through the FPT Early Learning and Child Care Framework are in addition to provincial investments and will work to build on existing strengths in the province’s early learning and child care system in ways that align with the principles of the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

The province continues to respond to concerns and questions raised by families, citizens and early learning and child care stakeholders including through Legislative Secretary Russ Marchuk’s public engagement on early years programming, and provincial strategies that include Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan 2016-2020, the Education Sector Strategic Plan, The Saskatchewan Disability Strategy and The Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy. This Action Plan will support these strategies, as described below.

In 2014, the Saskatchewan government appointed Legislative Secretary Russ Marchuk to focus on early years programming. More than 300 parents, children, school divisions, preschools, child care directors, provincial education organizations, and First Nations representatives were involved. Key themes that emerged from stakeholder feedback were:

  • A need for greater attention and investment in the early years.
  • Enhancing access to programs for vulnerable children and children experiencing disability.
  • Support for parents to find programs and to better understand elements of quality.
  • Consistent messages about the importance of the early years.

Informed by parent and community feedback at Legislative Secretary Marchuk’s public engagements, Saskatchewan released Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan 2016-2020 in May 2016 as a roadmap for a brighter path for children and families in the areas of healthy beginnings, early learning, child care, strong families, healthy children and community planning and alignment.

The priorities under Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan align with the parameters of new federal funding and are Saskatchewan’s priorities under the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and include:

Elements of Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan that align with the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

Early Learning:

  • Educating parents about how to choose quality early learning programs for their child.
  • Increasing the availability of early learning opportunities.
  • Supporting early learning environments to be more culturally inclusive.
  • Enhancing quality across child care and early learning programs by encouraging all early learning programs to use a play-based approach to learning and enhancing opportunities for post-secondary training and learning for professionals who work with young children.

Strong families, healthy children:

  • Supporting children who are unique learners or experiencing disability.

Child care:

  • Making it easier for parents to find local child care and early learning programs.
  • Support parent knowledge and choice, including enhancing access to licensed child care.
  • Developing innovative child care partnerships with schools.
  • Strengthening the child care sector.

Community planning and alignment:

  • Providing information to families about the importance of the early years and services available to them.
  • Supporting smoother transitions and improving access to services for vulnerable children.
  • Planning programs and services to meet the needs of children and families based on data and research.

In order to understand how well we are doing to support child development, Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan 2016-2020 and the Education Sector Strategic Plan are working towards an early years outcome with the target that by June 2020, 90% of children exiting Kindergarten will be ready for learning in the primary grades based on results from the Early Years Evaluation. In June 2017, 80.2% of children had typical development according to the tool. Federal investments into early learning and child care will build on existing provincial investments and provide new high quality early learning and child care opportunities to support this goal. Positive outcomes in the early years also provide a strong foundation that supports student learning goals under the Education Sector Strategic Plan, which include reading at grade level by the end of Grade 3, high school graduation, and improved school achievement for First Nations and Métis students.

The Education Sector Strategic Plan’s priorities for the early years include supporting the collection of data related to school readiness, developing training to enhance the specialization of early childhood educators to support the quality of early learning environments, improving child transitions, enhancing connections to communities and building the skills of educators to engage parents and caregivers in support of children’s learning.

Saskatchewan’s Action Plan for federal investment into early learning and child care will also support goals under The Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy to support low-income parents to go to work or school, by:

  • Improving access to healthy and safe child care environments.
  • Connecting families with child care providers.
  • Targeting Prekindergarten programs to vulnerable families.
  • Making it easier for parents to find child care and other local early learning options.
  • Establishing child care centres in new school builds in the province, as appropriate.
  • Increasing the availability of early learning spaces.

Saskatchewan’s plan will also advance The Saskatchewan Disability Strategy’s goal of reducing barriers to inclusive, quality education, early development programming and lifelong learning so children experiencing disability have the opportunity to realize their full potential. This includes expanding early learning programming that helps young children experiencing disability receive a good start on their learning and development and improving transition planning so that they can effectively and smoothly transition from the early years into school.

Saskatchewan’s Plan for investment

Saskatchewan will invest in four priority areas using a balanced approach that supports the province’s strategic goals and aligns with the federal government’s early learning and child care funding criteria outlined through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement:

  • Inclusivity of children experiencing disabilities – through new pilots for preschool-aged children experiencing disabilities.
  • Minority language inclusion of Francophone – through expanded Francophone early learning and child care spaces.
  • Increased access to programs for families – by developing 2,515 new licensed child care centre and family home spaces that are eligible for Saskatchewan’s Child Care Subsidy.
  • Quality-focused initiatives – support early childhood educators to enhance early learning and child care experiences for children.
2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Inclusivity – Pilot preschool opportunities for children experiencing disability * $1.990M $5.270M $5.105M
Minority language inclusion – Expand Francophone early learning and child care* $0.485M $0.273M $0.273M
Access – Expand access to high quality, affordable child care programs through the development of 2,515 additional licensed spaces* $6.710M $6.650M $6.650M
Quality – Enhance early learning and child care experiences for children * $4.663M $1.645M $1.810M
Total $13.848M $13.838M $13.838M
  • *Saskatchewan will spend up to the maximum amounts listed.

Inclusivity – Pilot preschool opportunities for children experiencing disability

Supporting inclusive early learning and child care opportunities for young children experiencing disability is a priority for Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth lays out the goal that Saskatchewan will be the best place in Canada to live for persons with disabilities. This goal is affirmed in The Saskatchewan Disability Strategy which aims to improve programs and services so that Saskatchewan is the best place in Canada to live for persons experiencing disability, including through Recommendation #8:

  • Focus on development and lifelong learning:
  • Remove barriers to inclusive quality education, early development programming and lifelong learning so that people experiencing disability have the opportunity to realize their potential.
  • 8.1 Expand early learning programming that helps young children experiencing disability to receive a good start on their learning and development.Footnote 3

This recommendation was informed by the results of public consultations held in the spring of 2014 led by a Citizen Consultation Team and released in a document entitled Our Experience, Our Voice: The Reality Today, the Opportunity to Share Tomorrow. The team designed a province-wide consultation process that included accepting written submissions and comments through social media in addition to more than 1,000 people who attended 15 public sessions held in 11 communities in the province.

Saskatchewan’s investments in this area also align with the federal priority of inclusivity.

The estimated number of children with disabilities zero to 14 years of age for 2014 in Saskatchewan was approximately 8,000, including approximately 1,300 children aged zero to four years and 6,700 children five to 14 years oldFootnote 4. The Saskatchewan Disability Strategy consultation process highlighted that for children with disabilities and their families, there is a need to provide extra support to enable access to beneficial programs and services at an early age. Providing timely and appropriate programs for children experiencing disability is key to supporting their development, and improving future outcomes:

  • Timely early intervention services can improve developmental, health and behavioral outcomes for young children. Quality services delivered early in children’s lives improve developmental, mental health and health outcomes for young children and their families. .. [For children experiencing disability] cognitive, play, health and language outcomes also can be enhanced through early identification and intervention.Footnote 5

Consultation with the early learning and child care sector and school divisions indicate a growing demand for inclusive early learning and child care programs and supports for children experiencing a range of disability in the province.

Saskatchewan plans to spend up to $1.990 million in 2017-18 in new funding on inclusivity through new pilot programs for children experiencing disability. Saskatchewan will also invest in inclusion supports for children experiencing disability in rural and remote communities. These supports will be based on Saskatchewan’s philosophy of inclusive practice in early learning environments. The province will work with the community in order to develop programming that reflects the needs of children experiencing disability. The province plans to spend up to $5.270 million in 2018-2019 and $5.105 million in 2019-2020 in ongoing funding for these supports, for a total of up to $12.365 million over three years. Saskatchewan will engage with stakeholders to develop the model and start implementation in 2017-2018. In 2018-2019, the new model will be implemented for the full fiscal year.

It is expected that at least 220 preschool-aged children who experience disability will be involved in early learning and child care opportunities through Saskatchewan’s investment into inclusive child care and early learning opportunities.

New pilots to support children experiencing disability are in addition to the province’s current investment of $27.3 million into Prekindergarten. Saskatchewan also has a Child Care Inclusion Program which provides support to families and child care facilities to include children with diverse needs in child care programs. Inclusion funding is available to child care centres and licensed child care homes that are providing child care services for a child with diverse needs. The province also provides Supports for Learning funding, which can be allocated by the province’s school divisions for early entrance children requiring intensive supports, in addition to other school division priorities.

Under the priority of inclusivity, Saskatchewan will introduce a new and innovative approach that uses community coordination and builds on the strengths of existing programs to enhance early learning opportunities for children experiencing significant disability in Saskatchewan’s two largest centres, Regina and Saskatoon.

The Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot will be available to children with intensive needs who require a significant level of support to participate in an early learning program including significant delays in development, and may include children who have been diagnosed with autism, cognitive delays, physical challenges, auditory issues or significant behavioural issues. The approach will allow additional children to experience a high quality early learning opportunity in existing school division selected Prekindergarten programs which is a targeted program that supports vulnerable three- and four-year-old children. Specifically, Prekindergarten focuses on fostering social development and self-esteem, nurturing educational growth and school success, promoting language development and engaging families.

Federal funding will provide spaces for children experiencing disability in multiple Prekindergarten classrooms in Regina and Saskatoon across four school divisions. Funding will allow programs to hire additional staff and provide supports needed to meet the unique needs of these children so they can benefit from the Prekindergarten early learning environment. The total number of classrooms that will accommodate children will be determined through planning with school divisions in Regina and Saskatoon.

These innovative programs will enable children with disabilities to access high quality early learning programs who would not otherwise have access to this service and therefore provide them a good start to their learning and development.

In addition to increasing access to early learning opportunities, under investments into quality improvements, Saskatchewan will focus on new training opportunities for educators who work with young children experiencing disability. Saskatchewan will provide educators with training opportunities to further develop their skill sets and increase the capacity of the sector to provide inclusive environments. Building the skills of early childhood educators is key to the success of this initiative. These training opportunities will help educators to respond to the unique needs of children experiencing disability and help to foster programming that is more inclusive to a broader range of abilities.

Saskatchewan will also contract with community-based organizations to provide coordination and training supports to the communities of Regina and Saskatoon. This approach will assist in customizing supports for children and families based on individual needs. It will also support the breaking down of silos between different early learning streams in order to provide more holistic approaches to preschool children experiencing disability and families.

Saskatchewan also has a large number of rural and remote communities with smaller populations. At times, families with children experiencing disability find it difficult to access early learning programming that meets the unique needs of their children. Saskatchewan will work with child care centres in rural and remote communities to extend a preschool response to support the early childhood development of children living in those communities who experience disability. This investment will support families and children experiencing disability for which programming would not otherwise be available. The focus of this work will be on providing quality early learning opportunities to children experiencing disability and supporting child care centres to adapt and respond to the needs of the child. Implementation of this response will begin in 2018-2019 and be fully implemented in 2019-2020.

Minority language inclusion – Expand Francophone early learning and child care

Saskatchewan also has a significant and vibrant Francophone culture and heritage. According to the 2016 Census, 1.4% of the population had a mother tongue that was French. The Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework commits the federal, provincial and territorial governments to invest in early learning and child care programs that support French and English minority language groups. Saskatchewan is committed to ensuring the continued growth of the Francophone culture and heritage in the province. The province communicates regularly with the Francophone community, including through consultation with the Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs. This engagement continues to highlight the importance of Francophone culture and the French language in the province. As a result, Saskatchewan will use the opportunity of federal commitments for early learning and child care to make investments that enhance early learning and child care opportunities available in French.

Saskatchewan will invest up to $0.485 million in 2017-2018 for early learning and child care programs for Francophone children and families. The province will invest up to $0.273 million in 2018-2019 and $0.698 million in 2019-2020, for a total of up to $1.031 million over three years. These dollars will support programs that encourage the acquisition of the French language and continued growth of Francophone culture and heritage in the province.

Expand Francophone early learning and child care

The province will respond to the Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs’ recommendations to expand access to Francophone child care and plans to develop 65 licensed child care spaces in Francophone schools. These recommendations were based on consultation with the Fransaskoises parent boards and the Conseil des écoles fransaskoises. As of September 30, 2017, French-language child care centres operated 283 provincially funded licensed child care spaces in Conseil des écoles fransaskoises schools across the province. New licensed child care centre spaces will be targeted to children under six and will represent a 23% increase in provincially funded child care spaces in Francophone schools. Funding will include capital for infrastructure to support quality environments with appropriate space to accommodate expanded child care centre programs. Development of new licensed child care spaces for Francophone families will begin in 2017-2018 and will be fully implemented by 2019-2020.

By investing $1.031 million over three years provided through this bilateral agreement, Saskatchewan will expand access to Francophone child care and plans to develop 65 licensed child care spaces in Francophone schools. Saskatchewan will work with the conseil des écoles Fransaskoises and the Fransaskoises community to develop additional child care spaces in Francophone schools and communities. In addition, the province will also continue to build curriculum and foundational documents in the French language to ensure culturally appropriate, quality environments and equitable opportunities for Francophone children in child care and early learning programs.

Access – Expand access to new high quality, affordable licensed child care

Development of licensed child care continues to be a priority for Saskatchewan. Since 2007, the province has grown the number of allocated licensed child care spaces by 63%, including 889 new child care spaces opened in joint-use school communities and traditional school builds in September 2017.

In Saskatchewan, all centre based spaces and licensed group and family child care spaces must meet similar safety and quality expectations laid out in The Child Care Act and Regulations. Licensed group and family child care homes are monitored on a regular basis to ensure child safety. Saskatchewan Ministry of Education consultants have a caseload that includes centres and homes and these staff work with providers to ensure adherence to regulation and provide guidance in implementing Saskatchewan’s Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide.

Saskatchewan will align with federal early learning and child care priorities and by 2020, will further expand access to 1,015 new licensed child care centre spaces in centres across the province, including 65 new spaces in Francophone settings. The province will also develop 1,500 new licensed group and family child care home spaces for children under six years old, for a total of 2,515 new licensed child care spaces in the province.

This initiative will address information in Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada, 2014, which states Saskatchewan had enough regulated child care spaces for 12.6% of children aged five and under. Assuming the same number of children aged five and under, an additional 2,515 spaces will grow access to regulated child care to approximately 20% of children aged five and under.

In 2017-2018, Saskatchewan will invest $6.710 million into enhancing access to quality, affordable early learning and child care. In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, the province plans to spend $6.650 million to expand access to quality programs. By investing federal funds of approximately $20.010 million into enhancing access to quality early learning and child care in the province, up to 2,515 new licensed child care spaces are expected to be created.

Saskatchewan’s Child Care Subsidy helps to address the affordability of licensed child care in the province. The 2017-2018 Budget for the Ministry of Social Services invested $12.9 million in the Child Care Subsidy. As of January 31, 2018, there were 16,291 licensed spaces in the province and 2,859 spaces were subsidized or 18% of total spaces. Saskatchewan’s planned expansion of licensed child care will make subsidized, licensed child care opportunities available to more families. It is anticipated that the take-up may reflect current levels of demand for child care subsidies. This could benefit approximately 400 children from low-income families depending on take-up.

Develop 1,500 new licensed group and family child care home spaces

In order to support the growth of the province’s licensed child care sector, Saskatchewan will focus on the development of additional licensed group or family child care home spaces. The province will prioritize developing licensed group and family child care homes in order to expand access to quality licensed child care for families in the province, including for families who are experiencing vulnerability. This approach will support family choice, since it will provide additional flexibility for families and allow them to have a greater range of child care options in their communities or neighbourhoods. The province’s approach also represents investment in both centre based and home based settings that include oversight from the province through licensing.

The province will develop 500 licensed group and family child care home spaces in each of 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. In total 1,500 licensed group and family child care home spaces in approximately 300 homes will be developed in the province.

The development of new licensed group and family child care homes will be supported through a 50% increase to nutrition and equipment grants. New and existing group and family child care homes will be eligible for an increased nutrition grant, which will grow from $40 to $60 per month and an equipment grant which will grow from $100 annually to $150 annually, starting in 2017-2018. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 existing licensed group and family child care home spaces in the province and this approach will support the quality of these early learning and child spaces programs. This investment will enhance the capacity of home-based early childhood educators to provide healthy and nutritious meals and regularly update and refresh the equipment and environments that children in their programs use every day. These program enhancements will in turn contribute to the early development, wellness and school readiness of children who use these early learning and child care spaces.

In order to ensure that licensed group and family child care spaces provide safe and developmentally appropriate care and early learning programs for children, Saskatchewan will make investments into the training of these providers. In a recent review by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education's Child Care Consultants on the state of adoption of Play and Exploration in licensed child care, it was identified that a large number of licensed family child care homes had not started integrating the practices laid out by the guide. Training will be focused on providing practical ways licensed home providers can enhance the quality of their environments to support child development and school readiness and to align with Saskatchewan’s Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide.

Due to the significant expansion of licensed child care that federal investments represent, Saskatchewan will focus on making the child care licensing system more efficient. This will be achieved by implementing a new licensing and monitoring system, focused on quality of care and programming, beginning in 2017-2018, as well as hiring additional staff to support the monitoring of an expanded early learning and child care system. Currently the province uses a generalized approach to licensing child care centres that evaluates all centres in the same way, regardless of past compliance. Saskatchewan will develop and implement a risk-based approach to licensing which will allow the province to focus more on centres that struggle with compliance and improve the quality in those centres. This approach will allow for greater efficiency in licensing centres, thereby increasing staff capacity to license a growing number of centres in the province and right-sizing the amount of oversight to be consistent with the quality of the provider. This approach will also allow the province to collect data related to the quality of child care programs and to develop a reporting measure related to innovation under the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

Expand access to 950 new licensed child care centre spaces

Saskatchewan values the contribution of licensed child care centres to the delivery of quality, affordable early learning and child care in the province. Saskatchewan will continue to support this sector and further expand licensed child care centre spaces as part of its Action Plan for early learning and child care. The province will start by providing capital costs to support the development of 750 new child care centre spaces across the province in 2017-2018. The province will provide capital costs for a further 200 child care centre spaces in 2018-2019. By 2019-2020, all 950 spaces will be staffed and operational. When 65 spaces targeted to Francophone communities are included, Saskatchewan plans to implement 1,015 child care spaces in child care centres by 2020.

Saskatchewan will use a data informed approach to allocate new spaces. Using population-level data from the Early Years Evaluation, In-Hospital Birth Questionnaire and other data sources, the province will target new licensed programs in vulnerable communities with a sustainable population base.

This targeted approach will help to support holistic child development and school readiness targets identified under the Education Sector Strategic Plan and Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan. This approach will also focus new programs on communities with a greater proportion of lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone parent families, French language minority communities and new Canadians. We will balance this data with information about existing physical space available for expansion of programs and community readiness to sustain new programming. Saskatchewan will also consider how it might implement flexible arrangements, with consideration for the needs of parents in communities, including allocating new infant spaces or part-time arrangements.

Quality — Enhance early learning and child care experiences for children

Supporting the quality of the early learning and child care system has always been a priority for Saskatchewan, and this priority was reaffirmed by Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan and the Education Sector Strategic Plan. New federal investments that support quality will be aligned with federal priorities and Saskatchewan’s Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide.

Investing in quality is important because it yields dividends for child outcomes. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Starting Strong III, “well-educated, well-trained professionals are the key factor in providing high-quality [early childhood education] with the most favourable cognitive and social outcomes for children.” Saskatchewan will invest in supports that enhance the capacity of the child care sector to provide rich, play-based early learning environments for children. This will build the cognitive and social skills, interpersonal relationships, and self-regulation of young children in these programs.

Saskatchewan will spend up to $4.663 million in 2017-18, $1.645 million in 2018-19 and $1.810 million in 2019-20. Over three years, the province plans to spend up to $8.118 million on the following priorities:

  • Training for child care centre staff.
  • Providing operational supports required to sustain and grow the licensed child care sector with a focus on home-based licensed child care.
  • A one-time grant to support the implementation of Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide.
  • A one-time grant to support active play.
  • Literacy supports for children with limited access to early learning programming.
Training for child care centre staff

New training opportunities will be a one-time cost that will support licensed family child care homes to adopt the Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide and will build staff capacity to respond to children with inclusion and disability needs and support leadership and capacity in child care directors. Saskatchewan will make implementation of Play and Exploration mandatory by 2020, and this training will support the province to fulfill this goal. This training will improve the quality of early learning and child care in licensed family child care homes, which may be the only licensed spaces available to harder to serve populations who choose home-based arrangements to best meet their needs.

A key priority under Saskatchewan’s Action Plan is to pilot a new approach for preschool-aged children who are experiencing disability. Saskatchewan will provide educators with training opportunities to build skills and further develop a toolkit of approaches to address the needs of children experiencing disability. Building the skills of early childhood educators is key to the success of the initiative and the goals of inclusive early learning opportunities that are the foundation this approach. This training will support the capacity of the early learning and child care sector in the province to respond to the needs of children experiencing disability and make those programs more inclusive of a range of abilities.

Saskatchewan will also support children experiencing disability by investing in training and mentorship to support child care centres serving children with intensive needs, focusing on children with autism, cognitive disabilities and behavioural issues.

According to a 2016 labour market analysis by Saskatchewan, more than 70% of child care centre directors had worked in the position for less than two years. Training focused at directors will equip them with human resource management skills so they can communicate and model effective practices with staff and support the hallmarks of quality practice in working with young children-- language, social-emotional skills, curiosity and cognitive development. Research shows that director leadership has a significant impact on staff recruitment and retention and therefore the quality of programs.

It is expected that up to 115 licensed family child care home providers and 188 child care centre Directors will participate in training. It is anticipated that approximately 300 Early Childhood Educators will benefit from training.

Support and sustain the growth of the licensed child care sector

Saskatchewan will work to highlight opportunities for residents to enter into the early childhood education field, with a specific focus on new licensed family child care home providers. Saskatchewan will support parent understanding of what to look for in quality care and also make it easier for parents to find quality early learning and child care programs. In fall 2014, the government appointed a Legislative Secretary to lead parent engagement sessions related to early learning. These engagements have provided valuable information about the needs of parents and children. From these engagements, the province learned that parents often do not know where to get early childhood services and that there is a lack of consistent messaging and information about the role of parents in supporting child development. Saskatchewan will focus on developing resources to help parents to find and access quality early learning and child care opportunities, as well as understand what quality arrangements look like.

One-time grant to support implementation of Play and exploration: Early Learning Program Guide

Saskatchewan will also provide a one-time grant in 2017-2018 for child care centres and licensed family child care homes to purchase equipment and resources to enhance their early learning environments in alignment with the guidelines of Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide. The early childhood environment is considered by many to be the “third teacher” since it provides the right setting for educators to respond creatively and meaningfully to children’s interests and provides multiple opportunities for discovery, reflection and interaction. This investment is expected to impact the experience of children in licensed child care settings across the province.

It is expected that 325 licensed child care centres and 230 licensed child care homes will receive funding. In addition, 16,000 children across the licensed child care sector in Saskatchewan may benefit from supporting Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide.

One-time grant to support active play

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years outline best practices for physical activity, sleep and sedentary behaviour for children aged zero to four. These recommendations provide guidance to early childhood educators, parents and caregivers about how children should be physically moving and spending time in their day. The guidelines were released in November 2017 and were developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, the Public Health Agency of Canada, ParticipACTION and a group of leading researchers from Canada and around the world. Saskatchewan will support early childhood educators to implement the guidelines and invest in a one-time grant that will enable licensed early learning facilities to purchase equipment that supports active play.

This investment recognizes that the foundations for physical health, wellness and skills are established in the earliest years of life. This grant will support young children to be more physically active and reduce sedentary behaviours. Over the long term, this investment will support outcomes such as reduced rates of overweight and obesity, reduced chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, improved mental health and stronger, fitter citizens who find life more enjoyable.

It is expected that 325 licensed child care centres and 230 licensed child care homes will receive funding. In addition, 16,000 children across the licensed child care sector in Saskatchewan may benefit from supporting active play.

Literacy supports for children with limited access to early learning programming

Saskatchewan recognizes that when social, physical, emotional and intellectual development is nurtured, children are better equipped to reach their full potential. Developing the skills necessary to lay the foundation for strong literacy skills among young children and families is key to this development. Saskatchewan will support improved literacy skills among preschool-aged children by targeting opportunities for children with limited access to early learning programs.

Innovation

Innovative ways of delivering services is a priority for Saskatchewan. The province will focus its efforts on two key areas:

  • Pilots to support preschool-aged children experiencing disability.
  • A new monitoring system that makes child care licensing more efficient and effective.
Pilots to support preschool children experiencing disability

Saskatchewan’s pilots to support preschool-aged children experiencing disability will be an innovative new approach that will bring together community based organizations, school divisions and child care centres. These groups will collaborate and work together to provide early learning programming for preschool-aged children experiencing disability. This new approach will work with families to determine their needs and the needs of their children in order to determine what will work best for them. The approach will focus on breaking down silos between different providers such as schools and child care centres through support from community-based coordination. It will also focus on improving transitions between programs and services so that children experiencing disabilities can continue to develop without unnecessary interruptions.

This approach will leverage the training and skills of educators working in early learning programs and expand Prekindergarten programs to accommodate the needs of children experiencing disability in inclusive environments. Focused training will build a common base of knowledge among early childhood educators that will support them to collaboratively address the needs of children experiencing disability and develop creative new approaches.

A new monitoring system that makes child care licensing more efficient and effective

Saskatchewan currently uses a generalized approach to licensing in child care. Saskatchewan’s plan to implement a risk-based approach to licensing will modernize its current system and create a more strategic approach to monitoring. This aligns with the principle of quality under the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement because it will allow for a greater focus on centres that struggle with compliance and in turn, enhance the quality of programs in those centres. This will improve school readiness and developmental outcomes for the children that use those spaces. The province will collaborate with experts in the field of risk-based assessment so that the new system will reflect current research and best practice. This change in approach to licensing will also provide the opportunity to develop innovation and quality measures for child care in Saskatchewan in a more systematic way. This will provide a basis for better data-informed decision making within the licensed system.

Engagement

Significant public engagement has occurred in the last three years which has informed Saskatchewan’s Action Plan and priorities under the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. This work began with public engagement sessions led by Legislative Secretary Russ Marchuk in fall 2014 that focused on early years programming with more than 300 parents, children, school divisions, preschools, child care directors, provincial education organizations, and First Nations representatives.

Significant stakeholder engagement also informed The Saskatchewan Disability Strategy and The Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy. Feedback spoke to the need to enhance access to early learning and child care opportunities for children and families and the need for government to create services that are more coordinated, integrated and provided in child and family centred ways. Engagement also focused on the powerful opportunity presented during the earliest years of life and the need for guiding provincial goals to provide a roadmap for this work across different sectors.

Our plan is also informed by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission report entitled Access and Equality for Deaf, deaf and Hard of Hearing People: A Report to Stakeholders. The report identified issues relevant to the early education of children who are Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing, including:

  • The need to create equity in the education sector between individuals who are Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing and individuals with no hearing impairment.
  • Increased safety, sensitivity and accommodation training across service providers within the province.
  • Addressing costs related to assistive technology.

Saskatchewan’s plan is also informed through consultation with First Nations and Métis organizations. The Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis People is a partnership between the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Government of Saskatchewan. The joint task force consulted with First Nations and Métis people and provided advice on practical solutions to eliminate education and employment gaps, including in early childhood programs. The report spoke to the need for inclusion of Indigenous voice and culture in programming and the important contribution that early childhood programming can provide to supporting school readiness, literacy and social and emotional well-being for Indigenous children. To support these goals and to improve the quality of early learning programming, Saskatchewan continues to engage and work with First Nations to share knowledge and identify best practices to support the success of all children, including First Nations children.

In July 2017, Saskatchewan received the Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs’ latest report on French-Language and Early Learning and Child Care Services based on engagement with Francophone community organizations. Saskatchewan’s plan also takes into consideration this engagement. Recommendations from the report include that the Ministry of Education meet on an annual basis with the Association des parents fransaskois, include space for child care in the construction and renovation of Francophone elementary schools, include French language as a criteria for allocating new spaces, and prioritize training, professional development and translation of materials for educators so they can provide environments that build French language learning and Fransaskois-identity for young children.

These engagement processes informed the goals of Saskatchewan’s Early Years Plan 2016-2020 as well as the direction laid out by Saskatchewan’s Action Plan under the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. As the province implements its Action Plan, Saskatchewan will continue working collaboratively with communities to determine where new programs fit best, as well as responding to the local context and including the diverse voices of parents and children. This will support Saskatchewan’s goal of helping all children to be safe, healthy and to develop to their full potential in strong families and supportive communities.

Summary of investments
Priority Initiative Initiative
Description
Investment Intended Impacts over three years
Inclusivity Pilot preschool opportunities for children experiencing disability Create new early learning opportunities for children experiencing disability through:
  • Innovative new pilots that use community coordination and builds on the strengths of existing Prekindergarten programs to enhance early learning opportunities for children experiencing significant disability.
  • A response for children who are experiencing disability in rural and remote communities.
$12.365M It is expected that at least 220 preschool-aged children who experience disability will be provided early learning and child care opportunities.
Minority language inclusion Expand Francophone early learning and child care Saskatchewan will respond to the Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs’ recommendations to expand access to Francophone child care and plan to develop 65 licensed child care spaces in Francophone schools. $1.031M It is expected that 65 children will have access to Francophone early learning and child care.
Access Develop 1,500 new licensed group and family child care home spaces Saskatchewan will develop 500 licensed group and family child care home spaces in 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. In total 1,500 licensed group and family child care home spaces in approximately 300 homes will be developed in the province. $7.92M It is expected that 1,500 children will have access to high quality, licensed family home child care.
Expand access to 950 new affordable licensed child care centre spaces Saskatchewan will support the development of 750 new child care centre spaces across the province in 2017-2018. The province will provide capital costs to a further 200 child care centre spaces in 2018-2019. By 2019-2020, all 950 spaces will be staffed and operational. $12.09M It is expected that 950 children will have access to high quality, centre based child care.
Quality Support the sustainment and growth of the licensed child care sector through training, providing operational supports and improving the licensing system Saskatchewan will provide educators with training opportunities to build skills and further develop a toolkit of approaches to support leadership, ensure play-based practices and address the needs of children experiencing disability. Saskatchewan will work to highlight opportunities for residents to enter into the early childhood education field, with a specific focus on new licensed family child care home providers as well as making the child care licensing system more efficient. $3.513M It is expected that up to 115 licensed family child care home providers and 188 child care centre Directors will participate in training.

It is anticipated that approximately 300 Early Childhood Educators will benefit from training.

It is expected that more licensed child care homes will be opened.
One-time grant to support implementation of Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide Saskatchewan will provide a one-time grant in 2017-18 for child care centres and licensed family child care homes in order to purchase equipment and resources to enhance their early learning environments in alignment with the guidelines of Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide. $1.4M It is expected that 325 licensed child care centres and 230 licensed child care homes will receive funding.

In addition, 16,000 children across the licensed child care sector may benefit from supporting Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide.
One-time grant to support active play Saskatchewan will support early childhood educators to implement the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years and invest in a one-time grant that would enable early learning facilities to purchase equipment that supports active play in licensed child care. $1.08M It is expected that 325 licensed child care centres and 230 licensed child care homes will receive funding.

In addition, 16,000 children across the licensed child care sector may benefit from supporting active play.
Support improved literacy skills Provide supports to allow access to programming for preschool aged children with limited access to early learning program in order to improve their literacy skills. $2.125M It is expected that more children will have access to early learning programming that supports literacy.
Indicators
Principle Indicators related to planned investment Data currently available Annual report
2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
High quality Number and percentage of early childhood educators participating in professional development No Yes Yes Not applicable
Innovation – Indicators related to innovative service delivery are under development. No No TBD Yes
Accessible affordable and flexible Number and percentage of children who have access to licensed child care Yes Yes Yes Yes
Flexibility – Indicators related to flexibility are under development No TBD TBD Yes
Inclusive Number of licensed child care spaces that support French language minority communities Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of children experiencing disability participating in child care or early learning programs No TBD Yes Yes
Targets

Below are targets to support key indicators related to Saskatchewan’s planned investments over the next three years. Targets for the rest of the indicators are under development, including leveraging existing data and developing new data collection needs.

By 2020, Saskatchewan will achieve the following targets:

Access:

  • Approximately 1,015 new affordable licensed child care centre spaces will be created, including up to 65 spaces targeted to the Francophone community.
  • Approximately 1,500 licensed group or family child care home spaces will be developed.

High quality:

  • Up to 50% or 115 licensed family child care home providers will participate in training to enhance the quality of their programs.
  • Up to 60% or 188 child care directors will participate in training to enhance the quality of their programs.

Inclusion:

  • At least 220 preschool-aged children experiencing disability will be served annually by 2020.
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