Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was joined by Karina Gould, Minister of Children, Families and Social Development on June 28th 2023 to announce that the $625 million federal Early Learning and Child Care infrastructure fund promised in the 2022 federal budget will start to flow funds to provinces and provinces to help defray the capital costs of expanding not-for-profit and public child care across the country.
The federal government has not made public how the federal money will be distributed among the provinces and territories.
According to the Prime Minister Office’s official media release the fund will help cover “the cost of physical infrastructure needed to create more spaces like real estate and building materials,” and it will be directed to supporting “child care spaces for underserved communities, including in rural and remote regions, high-cost and low-income urban neighbourhoods, and communities that face barriers to access, such as racialized groups, Indigenous Peoples, official language minority communities, newcomers, as well as parents, caregivers, and children with disabilities.”
“We applaud the federal government for deciding to make the new federal funds available only for the expansion of not-for-profit and public child care,” said Morna Ballantyne, Child Care Now’s Executive Director.
Ballantyne said the federal government’s capital funding of $625 million over four years will get more spaces built but noted that much more significant public infrastructure spending by all levels of government is needed,
Child Care Now had urged the government to create a federal infrastructure fund of $10 billion, the estimated cost of putting in place the physical facilities required to create 250,000 new quality and inclusive spaces by March 31, 2026 as promised by the Government of Canada’s $10aDay child care plan.
Ballantyne also noted that capital funds alone will not increase the availability of licensed child care. She said plans and spending to expand child care infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with plans and spending to expand the child care workforce.
“There is no point building new facilities if qualified early childhood educators can’t be found to staff them,” Ballantyne said. “That’s why we will continue to advocate for significant improvements in the wages, compensation and working conditions of educators as the foundation of a workforce retention and recruitment strategy.
Ballantyne said that provincial and territorial decisions on how to spend the new federal infrastructure funds must be guided by public planning processes and that governments must lead expansion efforts.
“It is inefficient and unfair to keep relying on existing not-for-profit providers to figure out how to build and staff more spaces,” said Ballantyne. “We need to see every province and territory create comprehensive, publicly managed expansion plans that are developed hand-in-hand with real investments in the wages and working conditions of early childhood educators,” Ballantyne said.