Saskatchewan Education Minister Dustin Duncan was joined by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen on Friday to announce an agreement that will support an average of $10-per-day early learning and child care by the end of the 2025-26 fiscal year.
The deal will see a 50 per cent reduction in average parent fees for children under six years of age in regulated child care for Saskatchewan families.
In addition, federal funding of close to $1.1 billion over the next five years will lead to the creation of 28,000 new regulated early learning and child-care spaces to provide Saskatchewan families with children under six years old access to child-care spaces that meet their needs.
This federal funding will support the expansion of new child-care spaces in not-for-profit child-care centres, small child-care facilities and home-based child care.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to investing in affordable, accessible and quality early learning and child care options that provide flexibility and choice to Saskatchewan families,” Duncan said in a statement on Friday. “We are pleased that this deal creates 28,000 new regulated spaces, makes life more affordable for Saskatchewan families and enhances the wages of Early Childhood Educators who support children across our province.”
Freeland called the move an “important step” for families.
“Ensuring that all Canadians have access to high-quality and affordable early learning and child care makes sense. Not only does it give our children the best possible start in life, it ensures that parents – especially mothers – can work, and it creates good, well-paying jobs for educators,” Freeland stated.
“Today’s announcement with the Government of Saskatchewan is another important step in making this a reality for families everywhere in Canada. It is part of the government’s plan to make sure that Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession leaves no one behind.”
Other funding commitments listed in the announcement include a continuation of working collaboratively with First Nations and Métis Nation communities in Saskatchewan to ensure Indigenous children have access to to affordable, high-quality and culturally appropriate child care and early learning.
“This is an incredible and transformational time for early learning and child care in our province,” said Georgia Lavallee, executive director of the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association.
“Not only will this agreement support children and families in Saskatchewan, but it will also support Early Childhood Educators. The agreement will promote economic growth, empower women in the workforce, and nurture better outcomes for children.”
The governments are also committed to fund opportunities to attract and retain skilled early childhood educators and support future early childhood educators with their studies and professional development opportunities.
The two governments have also signed a deal to extend the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, which will see the Canadian government pitch in over $68.5 million over the next four years to increase access to affordable, inclusive and high-quality child care spaces.
A one-time investment of over $17 million will be given to Saskatchewan in 2021-2022 to support the early childhood workforce.
Saskatchewan joins B.C., Manitoba, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and Quebec in having signed child care deals with the federal government so far.