Nova Scotia and the federal government are pledging that in five years, child care in the province will cost an average of $10 per day.
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the declaration during a press conference on Tuesday morning where $605 million in federal funding was being promised.
The province will contribute $40 million over the five-year agreement.
“Today’s agreement with Nova Scotia is a big step forward to making $10-a-day child care a reality across the province, and delivering much-needed support to families and communities as we build back better from the pandemic,” said Prime Minister Trudeau in a release.
The federal government’s recent budget included more than $27.2 billion on child care for the provinces, provided they agree to targets on affordability, quality of care and training of early childhood educators.
Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is joining British Columbia’s NDP in accepting Ottawa’s offer, and it has pledged to spend $605 million over the next five years on child care for children under the age of six.
According to a provincial release, the combined funding over a 5-year span will focus on reducing child care fees by an average of 50 per cent by Dec. 31, 2022 in Nova Scotia.
The plan also seeks to ensure that child care fees are on average $10 per day by 2026.
With this funding, the province said it’s set to create at least 9,500 new early learning and child-care spaces by March 31, 2025, including new spaces for infants and toddlers, and a new three-year-old early learning program with priority access given to vulnerable and equity-seeking families.
It’s also meant to enhance before and after care options at schools.
Tuesday’s announcement, which was based in Halifax but saw Trudeau participate virtually from Ottawa, comes as the Liberal Rankin government is expected to call a summer election in the coming days.
Ottawa said the deal with Nova Scotia will expand not-for-profit and public delivery of early learning and child care “with the goal of moving to a fully not-for-profit and publicly managed system.”
“I’m proud that our province is at the forefront of making this a reality for Nova Scotian families,” Rankin told reporters at the news conference, adding he is expecting his first child in November.
Nova Scotia currently invests $132.6 million in early learning and child care annually, including $54 million for pre-primary and more than $75 million for the child care sector.
An additional $22.5 million in federal funding was also announced Tuesday.
The province said the additional funding will help in providing higher wages for early childhood educators (ECEs) and free tuition, books and bursaries for hundreds of ECEs.
The investment is meant to address issues identified by the sector and support ECEs in their learning and career.
The province said the money will go to the following key initiatives:
- Providing a one-time grant of $500 for trained ECEs who work in provincially funded child-care centres.
- Developing a compensation framework for ECEs working in government-funded licensed child-care facilities to improve pay and benefits. The new framework is expected to be completed by 2022.
- Supporting ECEs with career navigation support.
- Moving toward professional recognition by introducing a regulated certification process for ECEs.
- Providing free tuition and books for over 300 staff currently working in child care and pre-primary without a diploma, including designated seats for Mi’kmaw/Indigenous peoples, Black/African Nova Scotians, Acadian/francophone Nova Scotians.
- Providing bursaries to 300 students currently enrolled in full-time ECE diploma/degree programs in Nova Scotia, and more for students from equity-seeking groups.
- Working closely with public schools to ensure they are supported to help students who are considering ECE as a career.
- Establishing a post-diploma certificate training program through the Advanced Practitioner Program in Early Childhood Education, allowing qualified ECEs to specialize and advance in a particular area of practice.
-With files from the Canadian Press