1. Do you plan to implement the bilateral funding agreement for child care in Nova Scotia? 

If so, how would you like to see it implemented? 

Investing in child care is one of the NDP’s core commitments to Nova Scotians, and one of the most important actions we can take to secure the present and future wellbeing of our province. 

An NDP government would begin work immediately on establishing universal, affordable child care in Nova Scotia. Within the first year, our plan would establish free before and after school care, see parent fees reduced by half, and $10 a day child care piloted in 50 existing non-profit licensed sites in a variety of contexts: rural, urban, family day homes, and diverse communities. 

An NDP government would also work together with parents and the child care sector to make these transitions, including working with Early Childhood Educators to raise the wage floor of this important and undervalued profession. An NDP government would also establish a local school food program across the province. 

  1. How will you ensure that Early Childhood Educators are properly compensated and educated? 

We in the NDP recognize that proper care and learning conditions for children cannot be supported and sustained without proper wages and working conditions for Early Childhood Educators. To this end, an NDP government will promptly address the wage gaps among ECEs by establishing a wage floor and the development of a comprehensive benefits package. 

  1. Will you commit to only expanding in the non-profit or public sector? 

As we state in our vision document, our childcare commitments are firmly rooted in equality and universality, and we support the need for significant public investment in Early Childhood Education and child care. An NDP government will introduce universal, public $10 a day child care by working together with current providers and establishing 4 new publicly owned and operated child care centres in child care deserts and underserved communities. 

These programs would be forefront close consultation with the sector, as has been the process in Prince Edward Island. We will need the expertise and skills of child care workers, owners, and operators in order to develop the best system for parents and children. 

  1. Do you plan to create a public school program for three year olds, as proposed in the bilateral funding agreement? 

An NDP government will work closely with providers to establish a system of universal, $10/day child care. We will begin by reducing all parent fees by half in our first year and piloting $10/day child care in 50 existing non-profit licensed sites including rural and urban settings, family day homes, and diverse communities. 

  1. According to the agreement, $10 a day is the goal for cost, with a goal of 50% by next year. How would you like to see fees be determined? Will there be a dollar amount cap for the 50%? 

The NDP believes that the way child care is funded in Nova Scotia needs to change. We need to shift the funding base away from dependence on the current expensive fees paid by families, and towards a universal, public system that is funded through progressive taxation. Our commitment to piloting $10/day childcare in 50 non-profit licensed sites during the first year of an NDP government speaks to the urgency and priority that we assign this issue, and the vision for universal, $10/day care. 

  1. Do you plan to ensure that school-aged kids up to the age of 12 have access to regulated, seamless care (before and after school, March break, summer break)? 

Nova Scotia can do much better in making sure that education and care programming for children aligns more realistically with parents’ work day. To this end, an NDP government will create free, inclusive, school-based, before- and after-school care for children in elementary schools and pre-primary. 

  1. What do you plan to do to support indigenous child care both on and off reserve? 

In an NDP government’s child care rollout, the priority for at least 120 new care spaces and four new public childcare centres would be given to underserved communities. 

Schools are an important site for delivering programs that support families. In addition to our free pre-primary and elementary before and after school care commitments, an NDP government will establish a universal school food program that would provide at least one meal during the school day with an emphasis on foods that are locally produced, nutritious, and culturally appropriate. 

Through investments to strengthen these types of public services and in making sure everyone has access to the basics, the burden on local organizations to meet the needs of people in communities is reduced. 

  1. Based on the agreement, by the year 2026 there will only be enough spaces for 59% coverage for children under the age of 6 and a goal to have 60% of ECEs certified. This agreement is does not go far enough to implement a universal system of early and child care. Will you commit to a timeline to achieve a universal, seamless, fully not-for-profit and publicly-managed system for all children under the age of 12?

After years of tireless work by childcare advocates, it is encouraging that the federal government has made this agreement for funding towards universal child care at this time, but it needs to be met with a provincial government that is willing to do two things: 

First, an NDP government would immediately begin the work and investments so that the $10 a day childcare pilot is established within the first year. 

Second, an NDP government would hold the federal government accountable to their part of the agreement, and make sure that their commitment to childcare doesn’t go by the wayside as it has throughout decades of previous federal government mandates. 

Third, an NDP government will be committed to working together with the sector and listening to parents, teachers, and child care providers through this transition. 

The children who would have benefitted from the earlier promises of universal child care back in the early 1990s are now grown, and many of them have children of their own and are still experiencing the same struggle to find child care. Through the commitments to universality and affordability outlined in our previous answers, the NDP is committed to providing something better.