The governments of Canada and Saskatchewan have signed a three-year Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreement which will provide the Saskatchewan government with over $41 million for investments towards accessibility, inclusivity and quality.
Government officials said the three-year bilateral agreement re-affirms their support and commitment to the unique early learning and child care needs of Saskatchewan families as it will increase demand for affordable and quality child care spaces, and provide opportunities for children with disabilities, including newcomers to Canada and francophone families.
“It is our responsibility to improve the lives of Canadian families and children together, and the agreement signed today brings us closer to our goal,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal minister of families, children and social development, in a statement.
“All children, especially vulnerable children, benefit from investments in this field because they can grow within families and communities that meet their physical and developmental needs.”
Saskatchewan Education Minister Gordon Wyant said it will also help nurture a child’s potential early in their development.
“When children have quality early learning experiences, they develop a foundation for education, leading to more success in school and far beyond,” Wyant said in a release.
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“I look forward to seeing these investments make a difference in the lives of Saskatchewan children and their families.”
By the end of the three-year agreement, the $41 million is set to:
- Improve access to quality child care by creating 1,500 new group and family child care home spaces and 1,015 new licensed child care centre spaces in the province.
- Create early learning pilots for preschool-aged children. It is expected that at least 220 preschool-aged children who experience significant disability will be provided new early learning opportunities.
- Increase minority language inclusions by targeting 65 licensed child care centre spaces.
- Enhance early learning and child care experiences for children in licensed child care by increasing quality through:
- Training approximately 300 early childhood educators, 115 licensed family child care home providers and 188 child care centre directors to support the growth of the licensed child care sector;
- Enhancing the early learning environments of child care centres and licensed family child care homes by implementing Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide, which will support 16,000 children across the licensed child care sector;
- Supporting young children to be more physically active by providing a one-time grant to provide play-based, developmentally appropriate programs in licensed child care centres and licensed child care homes; and
- Supporting improved literacy skills among preschool-aged children by targeting opportunities for children with limited access to early learning options.
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 the 2016 and 2017 budgets, 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.