On June 12, 2017, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Early Learning and Child Care signed a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. This is a significant milestone in which governments agree to work together to address some of the key early learning and child care issues across the country.

Governments will work towards achieving the shared long-term vision of the Framework where all children across Canada can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and child care. They have committed to increase the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity of early learning and child care with consideration for families that need child care the most.

The implementation of this framework, and a separate Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework to be co-developed with Indigenous peoples, is supported by federal investments announced in Budgets 2016 and 2017 totalling $7.5 billion over 11 years. Through bilateral agreements, the Government of Canada will provide provinces and territories with $1.2 billion over three years to address unique early learning and child care needs and allocate funding for each jurisdiction.

The governments of Canada and Alberta have signed an early learning and child care bilateral agreement. Through this bilateral agreement, the Government of Alberta will receive just over $136 million, over three years. Alberta is committed to ensuring that children—from birth to the time they start school—and their families, have increased access to comprehensive, integrated and culturally responsive early childhood development programs, resources and supports for healthy early childhood development and improved outcomes for all children.

By the end of the three-year agreement, this funding will:

·        Ensure children and families in Alberta have increased access to ELCC Centres.

o   Approximately 4,500 additional children will be enrolled in ELCC Centres (in addition to approximately 1,300 children currently enrolled, an estimated total of 5,800 children in approximately 100 ELCC Centres).

o   Access to flexible child care options is also expected to increase to support parents with non-traditional work hours or those attending school.

·        Increase affordability of child care for families in Alberta.

o   Number of children whose parents pay a flat rate of $25 per day also estimated to increase by approximately 4,500 children.

·        Increase quality in child care through ELCC Centres with staff trained in Alberta’s Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework and inclusive child care practices to support children with diverse needs.

·        Strengthen resources available to reflect the diversity of children and families in Alberta.

o   More resources and innovative tools will be available to support children’s cultural and linguistic diversity in Alberta.

·        Support programs offering child care in French speaking communities, linguistic minority communities, and Indigenous communities.

·        Support the development and implementation of innovations and improvements that address gaps in the current system.

o   Address the priorities of families more in need such as lower-income families, Indigenous families, families who belong to official language minority communities, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities, those working non-standard hours and/or families with children with varying abilities.

·        Support approximately 78 additional ELCC Centres starting in March 2018 as a result of the expression of interest process.

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