Backgrounder: Early learning and child care

Backgrounder

Early learning and child care

On June 12, 2017, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Early Learning and Child Care signed the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. This is a significant milestone in which governments agreed to work together to address some of the key early learning and child care issues across the country. Since then, each province and territory has signed a bilateral agreement with the Government of Canada that represents the unique early learning and child care needs of its jurisdiction.[i]

Funding for each province and territory has been announced, and all agreements can be found online.

Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

On September 17, 2018, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council and the Government of Canada jointly released a co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework. The Framework will help strengthen early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children and families, with the goal of providing Indigenous children with the best possible start in life.

The Framework was informed by comprehensive engagement undertaken in 2017 by the Government and Indigenous partners. Over 100 engagement activities were conducted across the country by Indigenous organizations and the Government of Canada, reaching over 3,000 participants through town halls, regional and national meetings, and online surveys. The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework captures the views and recommendations of the many Indigenous people that participated in the engagement and is a guide for providing early learning and child care services to all Indigenous people.

Alongside distinctions-based priorities and relationships, the Framework sets out principles and goals for Indigenous early learning and child care in order to better respond to and support the needs, responsibilities and aspirations of all Indigenous children and families across Canada regardless of where they live. It also recognizes the importance of implementing distinctions-based frameworks based on the rights, interests and circumstances of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation.

The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework contains the following:

  • The First Nations Framework, which envisions a system of diverse, high-quality programs and services that lays the foundation for the health and well-being of First Nations children, provides choices for families, and revitalizes and supports the cultural continuity of First Nations communities and nations.
  • The Inuit Framework, which identifies early learning and child care as an opportunity for cultural revitalization that can connect Inuit with their land, culture, language and histories. Inuit early learning and child care is also a significant step towards self-determination and reconciliation.
  • The Métis Nation Framework, which identifies a vision for early learning and child care in which Métis children and families throughout the Homeland are provided with culturally relevant, self-empowering early learning and child care programming and services that focus on the development and maintenance of strong Métis families and communities across the lifespan, beginning at birth.

Federal partners in engagement and framework development include:

  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Indigenous Services Canada
  • Health Canada
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Status of Women Canada

Budget 2017 and Budget 2018 funding towards the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

In support of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework, the Government of Canada is committing up to $1.7 billion over 10 years to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families starting in 2018–19. This is part of the commitment of $7.5 billion over 11 years the Government has made to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country. Over the next 10 years, up to $1.02 billion will support early learning and child care for First Nations and will be managed in partnership with First Nations. Up to $111 million will support early learning and child care for Inuit and will be managed in partnership with Inuit. Up to $450 million will support early learning and child care for the Métis Nation and will be managed in partnership with the Métis Nation.

Canada Child Benefit

Budget 2016 introduced the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which replaced the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It is a key initiative of the Government to strengthen the middle class and help those working to join it. As of July 2018, the CCB provides a maximum annual benefit of $6,496 per child under the age of six, and $5,481 per child aged 6 through 17. On average, families benefitting from the CCB received $4,600 more over the last two years compared with 2015–16. The benefit is tax-free and paid monthly to eligible families.

[i] While the Government of Québec supports the general principles of the Early Learning and Child Care Framework, it does not adhere to the Framework as it intends to preserve its sole responsibility in this area on its territory. The Government of Québec has received its share of the federal funding and will continue to invest significantly towards programs and services for families and children.

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