Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s budget, tabled in the House of Commons on April 19, 2021, will bring annual federal spending to historic levels. The federal government intends to use this injection of new funds to build a comprehensive system of early learning and child care for Canada.

Significant, sustained federal funding 

  • $27.2 billion in new spending over the next 5 years bringing total spending including previously announced spending to just under $34 billion.
    • $4.1 billion in 2021-2022, which represents the biggest ever jump in federal spending
    • Federal spending will increase each year
    • By $1 billion to $1.4 billion
    • Federal spending will reach $9.2 billion in 2025 with further annual increases to be determined
  • All federal spending commitments in Budget 2021 are in line with Child Care Now’s recommendations in our prebudget submission.

Source: Department of Finance. A recovery plan for jobs, growth and resilience: Budget 2021. Pg. 102.

$10 a day on average by 2026

  • 50% reduction in average fees for all regulated early learning and child care by the end of 2022
  • $10/day parent fee on average by 2025-26 for all regulated child care spaces

Indigenous child care

  • 2.5 billion over the next 5 years for Indigenous early learning and child care, which will then increase by 3% annually


  • Ongoing annual growth in quality affordable child care spaces in public and not-for-profit sector across Canada
  • Additional commitment to expanding school age child care


  • Budget acknowledges early childhood educators are at the heart of the system and recognizes the low wages in the mostly-female sector
  • Budget proposes to expand the system by providing training and development opportunities to support quality child care

Federal legislation

  • Budget commits to tabling federal legislation in the fall of 2021 to enshrine the principles of a Canada-wide child care system in law
  • Consultations on legislation will be held


  • Budget 2021 proposes an asymmetrical agreement with Quebec, recognizing the work already done in that province to create affordable child care, and providing support for further improvements to that system

System-building not more band-aids

  • The federal budget promises to transform early learning and child care by negotiating funding agreements with each province and territory.
  • These bilateral agreements will set out how the federal government’s funds will be used to make licensed child care more affordable, accessible, inclusive and flexible.
  • Also, the budget signals that the low compensation of early childhood educators will be addressed in order to enhance quality, and allow for more licensed programs to be put in place.