On February 12th 2024, early learning and child care advocates from across Canada joined three webinars organized by Child Care Now to discuss how we can advance our collective goal of making affordable licensed child care available to all families, and inclusive of all children.

Child Care Now Executive Director Morna Ballantyne gave an overview of the successes to date and identified key challenges in the provincial and territorial roll-out of the Canada-wide early learning and child care system.

Ballantyne said that for every problem of implementation, child care advocates have solutions, such as sufficient public funding of programs, updated government funding formulas and improved wages and working conditions.  

The three sessions attracted more than 500 participants in total. Drawing on their own diverse experiences as ECEs, operators, parents, post-secondary faculty and policy researchers, the participants shared reports from their communities. Several key themes emerged in all three sessions: 

The importance of robust funding models: Centre directors and home child care providers expressed concern and anxiety about inadequate operational funding formulas in their provinces and territories. They said governments must provide sufficient public funding to pay staff decent wages and support high quality and inclusive child care programs. 

Increased workforce support and engagement: Many participants said proper compensation of staff is essential for qualified early childhood educators to stay in the field, feel valued and earn a living wage. Educators shared about the need for pensions, benefits and paid sick leave. The recent Nova Scotia defined benefit pension plan was raised as an example of what should be in place in all jurisdictions. Educators also raised concerns about the failure of some governments to engage the workforce in policy discussions. They said they wanted a say in determining their wages and working conditions. 

Expansion needed to improve accessibility: Participants note the significant positive impact that lowering parents fees has had on families, and that long waitlists, which reflect the popularity of the $10aDay program, must be tackled by governments by expanding the availability of licensed programs. Speakers highlighted that expansion must be publicly planned and managed to ensure equitable access, and that governments must provide capital funding to cover the real costs of new construction and renovation.

The sessions ended with a call for participants to join advocacy networks in their local communities, join Child Care Now, and sign Child Care Now’s open letter to Canada’s Finance Minister and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development calling on them to continue to improve the $10aDay program through increased investments in the early learning and child care workforce, and in capital expansion of the system.

Child Care Now expresses our appreciation to all those who participated in these webinars – your knowledge and insights are essential to informing our ongoing advocacy strategy. 

Link to 1 pm session recording

Link to Morna’s overview slides 

We wish to acknowledge the financial support of Women and Gender Equality Canada through its capacity building fund.