National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care (2017 to 2018)

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title: Investing in our future: National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care (2017 to 2018)

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Minister's message

I strongly believe that all Canadians should have a real and fair chance to succeed in life. Central to that success is a strong and growing middle class. If we want the middle class to grow, both now and into the future, we need to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

We know the early years of life are critical in the development and future well-being of children, but many Canadian families face challenges when trying to balance work and home life, including finding affordable, quality child care. It is no surprise then that investments in high-quality early learning and child care are among the best investments we can make to strengthen the social and economic fabric of our country.

That is why our government is investing $7.5 billion over 11 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country. As part of this historic investment, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers most responsible for early learning and child care agreed to a Multilateral Framework in June 2017. The guiding principles of the Framework are to increase quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care. Since then, we have entered into bilateral agreements with all provinces and territories; providing $1.2 billion over 3 years for early learning and child care programs.

By 2020, the investments we are making through the bilateral agreements will lead to the creation of up to 40,000 more affordable child care spaces. I am pleased that we are on track to deliver on those results, having already reached over 50% of our target in 2017 to 2018. This will make it more affordable for some parents to return to work, so fewer families will have to make the difficult choice between working and staying home to care for their children.

In my mandate letter, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of tracking and reporting on the progress of our commitments to Canadians. In keeping with this, I am pleased to publish our first annual National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care to show you the important strides we are making. While significant work remains to reach our long-term vision, I am proud to share with you the important work that has been accomplished thus far to help Canadian children experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and child care.

By taking care of our children today, we are growing and strengthening Canada's middle class for years to come. I look forward to continuing to work with my provincial and territorial colleagues and to engaging with the newly established Early Learning and Child Care Data and Research Expert Panel to make our country a global leader in high-quality, affordable early learning and child care.

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

Section 1: National overview

Help for Canadian families

"In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada announced $7.5 billion over the next 11 years to increase the quality, affordability, inclusivity, accessibility and flexibility of early learning and child care.

Investing in education and child care for young children in Canada is one of the best investments that governments can make."

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos,
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, June 15, 2017

A recognized need

Research shows that high-quality child care supports positive child-development outcomes, particularly among children from disadvantaged families. Studies indicate that high-quality early learning and child care (ELCC) has positive effects on child cognitive and social development, improves school-readiness, and creates a foundation for lifelong learning.

Studies also show that access to affordable high-quality early learning and child care provides parents, particularly women (who often bear the primary responsibility for the care of young children) with increased opportunity to participate in education and training, to join the labour force in greater numbers, and to earn higher incomes.

However, access to affordable, high-quality child care remains limited and costly, particularly in low-and middle-income familiesFootnote 1. For regulated child care, parents in Canada pay an average of close to $11,500 per child per year, and that fee can reach up to $20,000 in some parts of the country. At the same time, while about 60% of children under the age of 6 participate in some form of formal or informal child care, availability of regulated child care remains relatively low in Canada outside of Quebec, with only about 1 in 4 children having access to licensed child care.

The federal government committed to increase its investments to help Canadian children get the best start in life. This began with a $500 million investment announced in Budget 2016 “toward establishing a national framework on early learning and child care”, including $100 million for Indigenous early learning and child care. A significant new commitment followed in Budget 2017: an additional $7 billion to be invested over the next decade to increase the availability of high-quality, affordable child care across the country. This brought the total to $7.5 billion and included a commitment to support the establishment of up to 40,000 more affordable child care spaces by March 2020. This included an investment of $1.7 billion for the development and implementation of an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework. This Framework was co-developed with Indigenous partners recognizing the distinct aspirations and early learning and child care priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, families and communities. In addition to the investments announced in the budget, the federal government provided $13.7 billion to provinces and territories in 2017 to 2018 through the Canada Social Transfer to support post-secondary education, social assistance and social services, and early childhood development and early learning and child careFootnote 2.

Creating a shared vision

This shared vision took shape in June 2017 when the federal, provincial and territorial ministers most responsible for early learning and child care signed the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework (the Framework).Footnote 3

The Framework created a foundation to work toward a shared long-term vision “where all children can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and child care” so they can reach their full potential.

Following the signing of the Framework, the federal government entered into 3-year bilateral agreements with each province and territory. Under these agreements, the Government of Canada is allocating $1.2 billion over 3 years (from 2017 to 2020) to the provinces and territories. Spending under the agreements is aligned with the Framework's guiding principles, which focus on areas that will improve quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, particularly for families that need it most. Recognizing that the early learning and child care requirements in each jurisdiction are unique, each agreement is accompanied by an action plan detailing how that jurisdiction will support the specific early learning and child care needs in that province or territory.

For highlights of the results to date, see Section 2: Taking action: Year one results.

Guiding principles

The guiding principles of the Framework are to increase quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity to create an environment where all children have access to early learning and child care that helps them reach their full potential.

High-quality means providing rich early learning experiences and environments. It means viewing children as capable, competent learners who are full of potential. It means valuing relationships that support optimal learning for children, and it recognizes the importance of proper qualifications and training for those working in the field of early childhood learning and care.

Systems that are accessible, affordable and flexible are able to respond to the varying needs of children and families. Such systems can support families participating in employment, education or training, and can provide support to harder-to-serve populations.

Inclusive early learning and child care systems respect and value diversity, such as children with varying abilities. It also means supporting families and children who are vulnerable, such as families that are lower-income, Indigenous, located in underserved communities, or families supported by a lone parent or those working non-standard hours.

Innovation and knowledge produce better results

To support the successful implementation of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, work is underway at the federal level in 2 key areas: data and innovation.

Ensuring evidence-based decision-making

As part of the $7.5 billion federal investment, the federal government is investing $95 million over 10 years to close data gaps, track progress and better understand child care challenges across the country and support robust reporting on the progress made.

Toward a comprehensive data and research strategy

Currently, work is underway with stakeholders, experts and academics, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners, and various federal departments to inform the development of a federal data and research strategy for collecting and analyzing information on early learning and child care.

To advance that process and invigorate a national dialogue on the subject, more than 150 participants attended the Early Learning and Child Care Data and Research Conference in February 2019. Its purpose was to identify data and research gaps, discuss the best mechanisms to close these gaps, and help inform where the federal government should focus its efforts. This was in addition to a smaller workshop on early learning and child care data that took place in June 2018 to begin the process of examining what we know and what we need to find out.

In addition, more than 220 applications were received at the end of 2018 following a call for nominations to establish an expert panel on early learning and child care to provide advice on creating the data and research strategy. The expert panel on early learning and child care data and research was announced on June 4, 2019 and its membership brings together a diverse group of leaders, practitioners, Indigenous representatives and experts. For more information, please visit Employment and Social Development Canada's webpage: Expert Panel on Early Learning and Child Care Data and Research.

Employment and Social Development Canada has also been working collaboratively with Statistics Canada on a number of projects to increase the knowledge of the child care sector as well as sharing and releasing more data. One new data source is Statistics Canada's Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements, the results of which were released on April 10, 2019. For more information, please visit Statistics Canada's webpages:

Encouraging innovation

The Government of Canada is investing $100 million over 10 years to foster innovative practices. A call for concepts asked participants to submit ideas such as an innovative solution, best practice, tool or methodology that would support learning and child care services aimed at children under 6 years of age to respond to current and emerging issues. More than 300 concepts were submitted. For additional information on innovative projects taking place across the country, please see Annex A .

Support for francophone minority communities

Early learning and child care can have a profound influence on children's overall development including their language skills and identity. That is why the Government of Canada is investing $12 million over 4 years in partnership with the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne to support training for early childhood educators and strengthen their capacity in French-speaking minority communities. This multi-year project is being funded as part of the $20 million investment announced in Budget 2018, to support early childhood development initiatives in Francophone minority communities as part of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018 to 2023.

Section 2: Taking action: Year one results

As this year's progress report shows, a significant amount of work has been undertaken across the country since the agreements were signed in 2017. The most recent information from the provinces and territories indicates that, in only the first year (2017 to 2018) of the 3-year agreement, an additional 21,205 more affordable child care spaces have been established, representing over half (53%) of the March 2020 target of 40,000 spaces. Families in need have particularly benefitted.

Progress indicators

As part of the Multilateral Framework, all of the provinces and territories must report annually on their progress from a suite of 8 common indicators supporting the guiding principles of the Multilateral Framework, that is, to increase quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, according to the areas of investment outlined in each bilateral agreement.

Figure 1: Highlights from 2017 to 2018

Text description of figure 1
Figure 1: Highlights from 2017 to 2018
Indicators National impact Province/territory specific examples
Quality 1,780 Number of ELCC educators and staff across Canada participating in or having increased access to training or professional development opportunities. Yukon: 72% of the territory's Early Childhood Educators participated in a 2-day conference for professional development.
Accessible and affordable 21,205 more affordable child care spaces available in 2017 to 2018 across Canada, on track to meet the target of up to 40,000 more spaces by March 2020. Alberta: 994 children enrolled in 83 ELCC Centres whose parents paid $25 per day or less, average pre-schooler fees across Edmonton dropped 6% in 2018 according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Inclusive 2,955 children from diverse populations benefitting from inclusive child care programming (including Indigenous children, children with additional support needs, children from francophone minority communities and recent immigrants). Saskatchewan: $2.2 million invested to support 144 children, with unique abilities through the Enhanced Accessibility Grant or the Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot.
Flexible 1,960 flexible child care spaces created for children whose parents work non-traditional hours or in seasonal employment. Prince Edward Island: $500 thousand allocated to support parents working non-standard hours and/or in seasonal employment with 48 child care spaces in 5 facilities.

Federal funding transfers to provinces and territories

A total of $400 million for the Early Learning and Child Care initiative was transferred to the provinces and territories in 2017 to 2018.

Figure 2: Federal funding transfers to provinces and territories (2017 to 2018)

Text description of figure 2
Figure 2: Federal funding transfers to provinces and territories (2017 to 2018)
Provinces and territories Federal funding transfer in 2017 to 2018
British Columbia $51 million
Alberta Over $45 million
Saskatchewan Almost $14 million
Manitoba Over $15 million
Ontario Almost $147 million
Quebec Over $87 million
New Brunswick Almost $10 million
Prince Edward Island Almost $4 million
Nova Scotia Almost $12 million
Newfoundland and Labrador Over $7 million
Nunavut Over $2 million
Northwest Territories Almost $3 million
Yukon Over $2 million

Section 3: Results by province and territory

The provinces and territories have provided summaries of their results from the first year of the bilateral agreements (2017 to 2018) as well as their plans going forward. Of note, provinces and territories could carry forward a significant portion of their first-year funding to fiscal year 2018 to 2019, and some are still in the process of implementing new programs and services. The results of these efforts will thus become more evident in the second and third year of the agreements.
The 13 bilateral agreements were signed over a 9‑month period between June 2017 and March 2018.

The staggered dates mean that results in the first year (2017 to 2018) are limited in some cases, but each jurisdiction has put measures in place that will lead to lasting improvements in the years to come.

British Columbia

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $155.6 million over 3 years.

Achievements

Training fund to support recruitment and retention of early childhood educators

Early childhood educators are critical to the quality of early learning in licensed facilities. In 2017 to 2018, British Columbia allocated $10 million to expand and enhance the Early Childhood Educator Bursary Program, which helps recipients reduce the cost of pursuing early childhood education credentials. The program is delivered through Early Childhood Educators of BC, the provincial association for the profession. The association promotes professionalism and improved educational preparation for its members and provides professional support and resources for educators to improve the quality of the experiences they are able to provide to children.

The new early childhood education support fund has 2 funding streams:

  1. The Early Childhood Education Bursary Fund. This fund increases the maximum bursary amount from $300 to $500 per course, up to a maximum of $4,000 per semester. It provides 60% of the funding to students up front, with the remaining 40% provided upon proof of successful completion of the eligible courses
  2. The Workforce Development Bursary Fund. This fund provides up to $5,000 per semester to existing early learning and child care professionals to help with the costs of taking time away from work to attend courses, including tuition, books, and materials, occasional child care, and travel to courses and practicum placements that are away from learners' home communities  
Expansion of culturally based Indigenous child care

Aboriginal Head Start programs are a no-fee Indigenous-led early learning and child care program offered to both on- and off-reserve communities. Federal funding to expand Aboriginal Head Start includes wrap-around family support, supportive services (including Elder involvement, provision of food and transportation) and inclusion for up to 600 new spaces for infants, toddlers and 3- to 5-year-old's across the province by 2020. The Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC, the First Nations Health Authority and the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development are working closely together to implement the expanded programs.

Enhanced funding for young parent programs

Young Parent Programs throughout British Columbia offer child care services for children of young parents who are working to complete their high school education. These programs also provide additional wrap-around services to meet the needs of young parents and their children. Prior to the implementation of the bilateral agreement, parents enrolled in the Young Parent Program could receive as much as $1,000 per month toward their child care costs. Through the bilateral agreement, BC has increased the maximum monthly amount to $1,500 to promote program sustainability and help ensure young families receive this much-needed support. This initiative will provide support to 249 children and their families.

Enhanced funding for supported child development and aboriginal supported child development programs

Supported Child Development (SCD) programs help to make child care more accessible by enabling children with extra support needs to fully participate in child care and early learning programs. Aboriginal Supported Child Development (ASCD) programs, which are available to Indigenous children both on- and off-reserve, offer similar services to SCD within a cultural model. ASCD programs enable Indigenous children with extra support needs to be included meaningfully in child care programs while also learning about their heritage and culture. Supports offered by SCD and ASCD programs can range from helping the child care facility build their capacity to support a variety of extra support needs, such as through program and equipment adaptations, or providing dedicated staffing support to assist with meeting a child's needs. Through the bilateral agreement $30-million has been invested over 3 years to make these programs more accessible for waiting families, supporting an estimated 1,428 more children and their families.

Anticipated achievements

Alberta

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $136.4 million over 3 years.

Achievements

In 2017, the Government of Alberta launched the Early Learning and Child Care Centres pilot program at 22 day care locations, with parent fees capped at $25 per day. The pilot is designed to test concepts in the areas of access, affordability, and quality. The participating centres provide care to children from birth to kindergarten and help to increase access to quality child care through the creation of new spaces or increased enrolment.

The funding through the Canada-Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, $43.3 million in 2017 to 2018, expanded this pilot to 100 additional centres, of which 92 received grant funds in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year.

The following are some of the program components implemented through the expansion of the pilot:

Access

Centres have increased access by creating new child care spaces or by hiring sufficient additional staff so that vacant spaces can be filled and enrolment increased. 

Affordability

The 92 Early Learning and Child Care Centres that received grant funding in 2017 to 2018 offered child care with maximum fees of $25 per day. Additionally, low and middle-income families who cannot afford $25/day for child care fees may be eligible for a child care subsidy (depending on their income, the age of their child and type of child care). 

Quality

Centres participating in the pilot program implement Flight, a curriculum framework intended to guide early learning and child care educators in their work with young children. 

Inclusivity

Centres must follow inclusive practices for children with diverse needs to ensure they are included in programming. Centres are also required to develop one or more improvements, such as serving vulnerable populations and must work with Getting Ready for Inclusion Today (GRIT), an organization that helps child care educators build their skills and knowledge to support inclusion of all children. 

Research and development

Funds provided to MacEwan University and Mount Royal University for the development of early learning and child care curriculum resources and training. This includes:

Saskatchewan

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $41.3 million over 3 years.

Achievements

Previous engagement with stakeholders from the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy, the Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy and parent and community focus groups have been vital to understanding needs within the early learning and child care sector. Some results achieved in the first year of the agreement are highlighted below.

Quality

Significant investments were made to support early childhood educator staff and to enhance children's learning environments, primarily through the Play and Exploration Grant and the Active Play Grant. A total of 332 licensed child care centres and 251 licensed child care homes received a combined total of $2.5 million. The Play and Exploration Grant helps centres implement Saskatchewan's foundational early learning framework and supports indoor and outdoor play and exploration. Eligible expenditures may include furniture, equipment, materials and resource books. Similarly, the Active Play Grant supports the purchase of materials to encourage active play in licensed child care settings.

Accessibility

A variety of both one-time and periodic grants were provided to licensed child care facilities to ease the financial burden and encourage new start-ups to increase accessibility. These grants include start-up grants; capital grants (to assist with the cost of renovating or constructing new child care spaces in centres); fire and health and safety grants (to help programs meet these requirements as part of the licensing process); nutritional grants (to support centres' abilities to provide well-balanced nutritious meals and snacks); and equipment and program grants (to support the purchase of equipment and furnishings to enhance children's activities).

Inclusivity

Supporting inclusive early learning and child care opportunities for young children with disabilities is a priority for Saskatchewan. The Early Learning and Intensive Support Pilot provides children with intensive needs access to pre-kindergarten programs. The Enhanced Accessibility Grant provides monthly financial support to facilities to pay for the additional staff required to care for children with particularly challenging needs or behaviours.

Inclusion of French-language communities

Based on consultation with Fransaskoises parent boards and the Conseil des écoles fransaskoises, efforts are being made to develop additional child care spaces in Francophone schools and communities (30 Francophone spaces were allocated in Regina in 2017 to 2018). Saskatchewan will also continue to build curriculum and foundational documents in French to ensure culturally appropriate, quality environments and equitable opportunities for Francophone children in child care and early learning programs.

Manitoba

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $46.9 million over 3 years.

Achievements

Support for new and newly funded affordable and accessible spaces.

Manitoba provided a new operating subsidy for 621 licensed child care spaces in 63 child care facilities across the province to help ensure that child care is affordable for families. These spaces were created through expansions undertaken by facilities in response to the needs of their communities. Thompson Children's World Inc. received capital and operating funding to create 12 new licensed spaces in Thompson, which has a low rate of coverage for early learning and child care services. The Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation received funding to invest in capital projects to create new infant and preschool licensed early learning and child care spaces in communities with greater needs. Community-based and school-based capital projects are underway, which will keep Manitoba on track to reach the targeted 780 newly created and funded spaces by the end of the bilateral term.

Build sector capacity and stability

Manitoba provided funding to Red River College to develop Manitoba Access, an online portal allowing free access to the Science of Early Child Development, which has 2 regularly updated living textbooks and 3 modules. All Manitobans, including centre staff and home-based providers now have access to current research, training and resources in a convenient online platform that is accessible via computer, tablet and smartphone. Additionally, the Manitoba Child Care Association received funding to support a new online training program developed specifically for the early learning and child care sector to strengthen board governance and the administration of non-profit centres. It is anticipated that throughout the period of the agreement, board members of up to 100 centres will participate in the training. Manitoba funded a pilot project using the Circle of Security approach, which is an early intervention model to increase attachment and security in children of all abilities. The goal over the period of the agreement is to train up to 100 facilitators and expand the use of this approach in more facilities, which will build capacity to meet the diverse needs of all children in a secure and inclusive environment. Development work continued to support the implementation of a pilot mentorship program to support home-based providers.

Implement a rural and northern strategy

Manitoba piloted an enhanced operating subsidy program to alleviate challenges associated with high operational costs and to improve their financial stability at 12 early learning and child care facilities with a total of 793 spaces in rural and Northern Manitoba. This additional funding will allow these facilities to hire and retain more qualified staff and offer more flexible, high quality, inclusive child care programming to better serve these higher-need communities. The foundation was laid to expand the Competency Based Assessment Program in rural communities and to explore opportunities for more flexible operations for home-based providers during the balance of the bilateral term.

Ensure diversity and inclusion

Manitoba launched a pilot program that allocated grant funding to 6 community service organizations to hire early childhood educators. These organizations provide casual child care services for children while their parents are receiving supportive programming such as English as an additional language classes, literacy and job skill courses, parenting courses and counselling. While families are moving through a significant transition, early childhood educators provide quality early learning and child care programming for their children, with the goal of enhancing the children's developmental outcomes and allowing the family to establish a level of security. The pilot will continue to support other community service organizations through the bilateral term. Development work continued to support the implementation of a new dual stream service and funding approach for inclusion support.

Ontario

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $439.1 million over 3 years.

Achievements

Increasing access to affordable, high-quality licensed child care

The funding under the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement has provided support for new full or partial fee subsidies and has increased access. In 2017, more than 12,700 children were supported through increased access, increased affordability, fee subsidies and community-based capital.

Increasing access to EarlyON child and family centres

Approximately 145 new EarlyON child and family centre rooms in 88 locations were approved by the ministry in 2017 to 2018, increasing access to no-cost, high-quality early-years experiences. Of these, 84 were new rooms in 47 locations that were approved using approximately $21.4 million invested by the federal government through the bilateral agreement. The ministry is also monitoring potential EarlyON expansion supported through operating funding provided under the agreement.

Access to high-quality training and professional learning opportunities for those in the early years and child care workforce

To support access to high-quality training and professional development, the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade Program (ECE QUP) supports individuals working in eligible child care and early years settings to obtain an early childhood education diploma and become eligible to apply for membership with the College of Early Childhood Educators. The ECE QUP also provides opportunities for leadership development for those who already have their Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) designation and are working in supervisorial roles (or who aspire to do so). Financial support is available to eligible applicants in the form of education grants, travel grants, book allowances and training allowances. The ministry continues to work to expand access to the program to increase the number of RECEs in child care and early years programs.

Centres of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care is a new initiative being funded as part of Ontario's action plan under the bilateral agreement aimed at supporting a high-quality early years and child care workforce. Provincial, Francophone and Indigenous Centres of Excellence have been established to:

The following organizations, working in collaboration with partners across the province, were selected to lead the 3 Centres of Excellence:

  1. Provincial Centre of Excellence: Western University and Ontario Reggio Association
  2. Francophone Centre of Excellence: Collège Boréal and L'Association francophone à l'éducation des services à l'enfance de l'Ontario
  3. Indigenous Centre of Excellence: Ontario Aboriginal Head Start Association and Kenjgewin Teg Education Institute

Quebec

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $260.5 million over 3 years

Quebec is seen as a leader in early learning and child care and has a well-established low-fee child care system (introduced in 1997). Quebec also has the highest child care coverage with 78.2% of children under 6 years participating in some form of formal or informal child care, and more specifically, 46.8% having access to a licensed child care space. As a result, in 2016, 81% of women aged 15 to 44 in Quebec participated in the labour market, with the largest increase among women with young children. From 1996 to 2016, the labour force participation rate of women whose youngest child was under the age of 3 increased by 19 percentage points in Quebec (from 61% to 80%).

As of March 31, 2018, nearly 300,000 licensed spaces are offered by educational daycare centres. In this regard, the annual budget for the educational day care services fund for 2017 to 18 is $2.3 billion (up 3% over 2016 to 17). Quebec offers the most affordable child care in Canada with close to 60% of families, those earning an annual maximum of $75,820, paying less than $9 per day.

While the Government of Quebec supports the general principles of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, it does not adhere to it, as it intends to remain solely responsible for early learning and child care within its jurisdiction. However, it will receive its share of the federal funding and will continue to invest significantly in programs and services for families and children. On March 29, 2018, the Canada-Quebec Early Learning and Child Care Agreement was signed allocating approximately $262 million over 3 years, to provide additional direct services to Quebec families.

Examples of direct services to familiesFootnote 4

Creation of 5,800 new child care spaces

To strengthen the educational child care system, Quebec has committed to creating 5,800 subsidized spaces across Quebec, by:

"Agir tôt

Early childhood intervention has an important impact on children's educational success when they start school and as they continue their studies. More specifically, these investments will make it possible to:

New Brunswick

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $29.3 million over 3 years.

Achievements

The 2017 to 2018 funding under the Canada-New Brunswick Early Child Care Agreement has provided support for the following areas:

New Brunswick early learning centres

“New Brunswick early learning centre” is a designation awarded to licensed early learning and child care facilities. As of April 2018, a total of 25 designated locations were operating in the province, providing a total of 1,828 spaces for children from birth to age 5. Designated centres must adhere to a number of requirements, including:

Early learning and child care improvement grant

To increase the quality of both indoor and outdoor learning environments, approximately $3.1 million was distributed to 506 licensed child care facilities across the province. Operators must use 50% of the funding to create or enhance natural outdoor play spaces or facilitate outdoor experiences that align with the early learning and child care curriculum.

Guidelines for language acquisition and cultural identity learning

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development entered into an agreement with l'Association francophone des parents du Nouveau-Brunswick to recommend guidelines for supporting early childhood educators so they can use proven teaching practices to integrate language acquisition and cultural identity learning within centres that use the Curriculum éducatif pour la petite enfance francophone du Nouveau-Brunswick.

Quality assessment and inclusion policy

In 2017 to 2018, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development entered into a partnership with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living to help designated centres implement policies that are based on a provincial inclusion policy. Representatives from the association will work with facility operators to assess their current practices and develop their own inclusion policies.

Prince Edward Island

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $10.6 million over 3 years.

Achievements

Improving accessibility and affordability of child care

To improve access and gain a comprehensive understanding of the demand for early learning and child care, PEI has contracted the Early Childhood Development Association to update and enhance the Early Learning and Child Care Registry.

A capital grant program was established that offers eligible centres up to $6,000 for equipment and $10,000 for capital improvements to assist licensed centres increase accessibility of child care for infants and preschoolers. This will support the creation of 201 licensed spaces. In 2017 to 2018, a total of 21 grants were awarded and $200,964 was paid out.

To support parents who work non-standard hours or in seasonal employment, a total of $500,000 in federal funding was allocated in 2017 to 2018. Of this investment, $19,568 was expended toward initial investments to support 5 Alternate Hours Projects, allowing these centres to provide more flexible child care programs for at least 48 children.

Supports for children and families with diverse needs

PEI is expanding Handle with Care a culturally relevant interactive parenting program that promotes the mental health and well-being of young children from birth to age 6 and the health of their parents or caregivers in partnership with the Early Childhood Development Association. In 2017 to 2018, 26 programs were delivered to 213 participants. 2 workshops were conducted that provided training to 25 facilitators.

In response to the growth of newcomer families, in partnership the PEI Association for Newcomers, PEI is providing outreach and support to licensed early learning and child care programs to help them respond to the needs of newcomer families. In 2017 to 2018, 15 licensed centres with a total capacity of 717 spaces participated in the project.

PEI is investing to provide Acadian and Francophone families with language development and family literacy support to help children learn and maintain their language through the Francophone home visiting/francization program. In 2017 to 2018, the focus was on designing the program, establishing key partnerships, and beginning program delivery. The program was implemented in early 2018 and, by March 31, 2018, 16 families from French-language minority communities had registered.

To increase access to early learning and child care for children with unique needs, funding supported 2 programs that helped a total of 33 children with unique abilities through the Early Years Autism Service and the Special Needs Assistant Program. The number of children on the waiting list for autism services decreased from 42 to 18, and the number of autism assistants increased from 40 to 56. In March 2018, wait times dropped from approximately 12 months to between 6 and 8 months.

Improving the quality of child care

To increase the number of certified staff, funding was allocated to the Early Childhood Education Training Grant. This grant provides casual, part-time and temporary employees of licensed Early Learning and Child Care Centres to pay for course fees and textbooks. In total, 109 applications were approved for funding. In addition, to assist centres in providing quality programming to children and their families, funding was allocated to expand the Quality Enhancement Grant. This grant aims to foster relationships between children, their families and communities, and to provide high-quality environments to bolster all areas of child development.

Nova Scotia

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $35.1 million over 3 years.

Achievements

Funding under the Canada-Nova Scotia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement has resulted in more than 1,600 children in Nova Scotia's early childhood education system becoming eligible for increased subsidy rates, making early learning programs more affordable and accessible for new families coming into the system. Changes to the subsidies will save Nova Scotia families approximately $5 million.

In September 2017, the province launched its free Pre-primary Program for 4-year-olds, which will be fully implemented across the province by the beginning of the 2020 to 2021 school year. The program is a child-centred, play-based, and developmentally appropriate experience for children who will be entering primary school the following September. The program is designed to facilitate a smooth transition to elementary school and provide children with the experiences required to succeed in school and life.

In January 2018, Nova Scotia introduced a new funding model for child care centre employers to ensure stronger accountability for the province's investments in regulated child care. Quality Matters is a province-wide assessment program that will be used to determine funding eligibility for licensed centres. The program focuses on continuous quality improvement and ties funding to outcomes in key areas (leadership, qualifications, learning environment, relationships, and inclusion) and to compliance and accountability measures.

Nova Scotia is investing significantly in training and development for early childhood educators and has made key policy decisions regarding their wages. As of fall 2016, all child care centre employers who receive government funding and are licensed to provide child care in Nova Scotia are required to provide a minimum wage of $17 to $19 per hour (up from below $13 per hour) to early childhood educators who have a 2-year diploma or 4-year degree.

By 2020, the Government of Nova Scotia will use the federal funding to support:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $22 million over 3 years.

The federal funding will be applied in the following areas:

Improve accessibility and affordability
Enhance quality

Anticipated achievements

Nunavut

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $7.2 million over 3 years.

The territory's funding will focus on early learning and child care programs and services to support parents, families and communities to ensure the best possible future for children in the territory.
Nunavut is investing in the following priority areas:

Achievements

As of March 31, 2018, 47 of 52 facilities (90.4%) accessed operations and maintenance top-up funding. This means that the parents or guardians of 1,001 children benefitted from maintained or reduced fees, increasing the affordability of child care. This funding helps early learning and child care centres bridge the gap between the cost of running their programs and the amount of money they bring in (through funding or revenues) without raising parental fees. The funding will therefore help centres deliver more affordable and more consistent programs and services.

All licensed child care facilities in Nunavut are encouraged to offer culturally and linguistically relevant programming. As of March 31, 2018, a total of 1,089 children in these centres had the opportunity to benefit from various programs that support Indigenous language and culturally appropriate early learning and child care.

Anticipated achievements

In 2018 to 2019, Nunavut will work to develop resources that are culturally relevant and increase the level of program and training resources available to support the Inuit language and culture, particularly in recognition of the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019.

The Department of Education is planning to deliver a territory-wide training and professional development session as well as training on financial literacy and management for child care staff. This will provide staff with the opportunity to come together to share best practices, identify common challenges and issues, and access training and professional development opportunities.

Northwest Territories

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $7.4 million over 3 years.

Due to the late signing of the Canada-Northwest Territories Early Learning and Child Care Agreement in 2017 to 2018, the NWT is undertaking significant work in 2018 to 2019 to further improve the quality and accessibility of child care. This includes the development and distribution of cultural resources, increasing the number of qualified early childhood development professionals working in licensed programs through postsecondary learning opportunities, as well as supporting access to early learning and child care within all communities in the NWT through funding for new child care spaces 

Achievements

High quality

High-quality early childhood programs require well-trained and knowledgeable educators. As part of the bilateral agreement, the NWT will provide funding to increase the number of scholarships offered to support students enrolled in full-time early childhood education programs. As of March 31, 2018, a total of 13 scholarships had been provided to students pursuing post-secondary education in early childhood development (3 funded through the bilateral agreement and 10 funded through the territorial budget). Of the 228 early childhood staff working in licensed facilities who received the Early Childhood Staff Grant, 25 have a certificate and 17 have a diploma (or higher) in early childhood development from an accredited post-secondary institution.

In 2018 to 2019, the NWT will also be supporting high-quality child care through increased opportunities for professional development and training as well as the development and distribution of culturally-appropriate resources such as music and books in Indigenous languages that are reflective of Indigenous beliefs and culture. Funding will also be used to support health and safety in licensed centre-based early childhood programs and family day homes, and the Provider Enhancement Grant will be created to help licensed early childhood programs purchase or replace equipment that supports quality play-based environments.

Accessibility

Improving access to early learning and child care not only includes supporting the development of new child care spaces, but also supporting the sustainability of existing licensed early childhood programs and improving access in underserved communities. As of March 31, 2018, there were 111 licensed early childhood programs operating in 22 of 33 communities in the NWT. This includes 18 daycare centres, 18 preschool programs, 51 family day homes, and 24 before- and after-school programs.

The NWT will engage with communities to identify gaps and opportunities for early learning and child care options and assist with raising awareness and knowledge of the importance of early childhood development. The engagement will also support communities by dedicating funding to improving the accessibility of child care programs that best meet their needs.

A total of 614 before- and after-school spaces (located in licensed child care centres) benefitted from increased funding to support the delivery and sustainability of high-quality early learning and child care experiences for children aged 4 to 11 years. A total of 13 new before- and after-school spaces were created. Although the funding is targeted to children aged 4 to 5 years, because licensed early childhood programs provide services for children up to age 11, there is an incidental benefit for children aged 6 to 11. In addition, 650 preschool spaces (including 28 new preschool spaces and 1 French-language program with 22 licensed spaces) also benefitted from funding.

Yukon

Funding under the bilateral agreement: approximately $7.2 million over 3 years. 

Achievements

Improving quality through training

Recognizing the challenges in accessing training opportunities and professional development materials, Yukon, working in partnership with the Yukon Child Care Association, organized a 2-day professional development conference that was attended by 165 individuals (72% of Yukon's early childhood educators). The conference will be held annually to address educators' challenges in accessing training opportunities or professional development materials that can enhance the quality of early learning and child care services. In 2017 to 2018, 5 students from rural communities completed early learning and child care coursework to advance to the next level of their education. These 5 students represent 14% of the Yukon early learning and child care providers who are working to obtain a child care work level 1 certificate.

A total of 57% (36) of Yukon's licensed programs accessed one-time funding through the Enrichment Fund to purchase culturally and developmentally appropriate toys and equipment aimed at increasing the quality and inclusivity of child care facilities in Yukon.

In 2018 to 2019, Yukon is supporting the development of a curriculum framework that will reflect the early learning and child care needs of the territory's linguistic, cultural and urban/rural communities, including Yukon's Francophone population and 14 First Nations.

Improving affordability and accessibility

To improve the accessibility and affordability of early learning and child care, all 62 licensed child care programs in Yukon, representing a total of 1,477 spaces, benefitted in 2017 to 2018 from a 14.5% increase in the Direct Operating Grant, the first increase in funding since 2008. An additional 20% increase in funding was allocated specifically to child care programs in rural communities to reflect the extra costs of operating outside urban areas. The funding will stabilize the fees paid by parents for licensed care programs to help make child care more affordable for Yukon families.

In addition to supporting affordability for Yukon families through the Direct Operating Grant, 5 people accessed a grant that provides support to individuals who provide primary care for their grandchildren. Many grandparents are primary caregivers for their grandchildren for a variety of reasons and were not previously eligible for existing subsidy programs because of current income-testing guidelines.

In addition to supporting the operations and maintenance of existing programs, start-up funding (to support the opening of new licensed programs in underserved and rural areas as well as programs that offer flexible, non-traditional child care hours) resulted in the opening of 20 new child care spaces and the reopening of approximately 59 spaces that had been temporarily closed.

Inclusive child care programs

13 additional children were supported through funding for inclusive programs to ensure that children with special needs meet their developmental potential. These supports include both one-to-one and reduced-ratio support, specialized equipment, and training for staff.

In 2018 to 2019, Yukon will work with the Francophone community and with all Yukon First Nations to review their communities' early learning and child care needs to help determine the best way to use future funding to address gaps in early learning and child care programming.

In summary

To help Canadian children get the best start in life and better support Canadian families, the Government of Canada announced investments of $7.5 billion over 11 years, starting in 2017 to 2018, to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country.

This report demonstrates progress made in 2017 to 2018 on supporting early learning and child care at a national level. This includes the implementation of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework; the creation of an Expert Panel to provide advice on the development of an early learning and child care data and research strategy; and investing in innovative projects across the country. The report also highlights the results achieved after 1 year of investment according to each bilateral agreement with provinces and territories. This is in addition to the overall results and ongoing investments made by provinces and territories in early learning and child care. While there is good progress being made, the results of the agreements will become more evident in the second and third year of the agreements. This is due to the late signing of the bilateral agreements with provinces and territories and the fact that a significant portion of first-year funding could be carried forward to fiscal year 2018 to 2019.

Through the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, governments have committed to report annually on progress and the impact of federal funding, while reflecting the priorities of each jurisdiction in early learning and child care. Reporting data builds knowledge and disseminates information to families, communities and service providers. Results of the second and third year of the bilateral agreements are forthcoming.

References

Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development. (2017). “Early Childhood Education Report 2017.” Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and University of Toronto. Retrieved from http://ecereport.ca/en/report/

Baker, M. et al. (2008). “Universal Childcare, Maternal Labour Supply and Family Well-Being”

Cleveland, G. et al. (2008) “New Evidence about Child Care in Canada: Use Patterns, Affordability and Quality”. IRPP Choices, Vol. 14, No. 12

Kohen, D., Dahinten, VS. Khan, S. & Hertzman, C. (2008). “Child care in Quebec: access to a universal program”. Canadian Journal of Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19149384

Friendly, M. et al. (2018). “Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada 2016”. Childcare Resource and Research Unit. Retrieved from https://www.childcarecanada.org/sites/default/files/ECEC-in-Canada-2016.pdf

Laurin, J. et al. (2015). “Child Care Services, Socioeconomic Inequalities, and Academic Performance”. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26598459

Macdonald, D. & Friendly, M. (2019). “Developmental milestones: Child care fees in Canada's big cities 2018”. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved from https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/developmental-milestones

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2006). “The NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development”. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pubs/documents/seccyd_06.pdf

OECD (2012). “Starting Strong III - A Quality Toolbox for ECE and Care”. OECD Publishing, Paris. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/startingstrongiii-aqualitytoolboxforearlychildhoodeducationandcare.htm

Romano, E. Kohen, D. & Findlay, L. (2010). “Associations among child care, family and behavior outcomes in a nation-wide sample of preschool-aged children”. International Journal of Behavioural Development. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0165025409351657

Statistics Canada (2019). “Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements”. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/190410/dq190410a-eng.htm

Annex A: Examples of innovative early learning and child care projects

The Government of Canada is investing $100 million over 10 years to foster innovative practices. A call for concepts asked participants to submit ideas such as an innovative solution, best practice, tool or methodology that would support learning and child care services aimed at children under 6 years of age to respond to current and emerging issues. More than 300 concepts were submitted. The following projects are currently underway:

Infographic: National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care

Infographic: National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care

Text description of the infographic

This information is presented with a map of Canada

$400 Million total investment in 2017 to 2018 to increase the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care

Federal funding transfers for early learning and child care to provinces and territories in 2017 to 2018:
Provinces and territories Federal funding transfer in 2017 to 2018
British Columbia $51 million
Alberta $45.6 million
Saskatchewan $13.8 million
Manitoba $15.6 million
Ontario $146.5 million
Quebec $87.4 million
New Brunswick $9.7 million
Prince Edward Island $3.5 million
Nova Scotia $11.7 million
Newfoundland and Labrador $7.4 million
Nunavut $2.4 million
Northwest Territories $2.5 million
Yukon $2.4 million

Other information below the map

  • Total investment of $7.5 billion over 11 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country
  • 21,205 more affordable child care spaces available in 2017 to 2018 across Canada. On track to meet the target of up to 40,000 more affordable child care spaces by 2019 to 2020
  • 13 bilateral agreements signed with each province and territory providing $1.2 billion over 3 years
  • 1,780 Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) educators and staff across Canada participated in or had increased access to training or professional development opportunities
  • 2,955 children from diverse populations benefitting from inclusive child care programming
  • The Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Framework and Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Framework were released
  • 1,960 flexible child care spaces created for children whose parents work non-traditional hours or in seasonal employment
Alternate format

Infographic: National Progress Report on Early Learning and Child Care (PDF, 333 KB)

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