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Building a System of Early Learning and Child Care in Canada

Affordable high quality child care for ALL will enhance children’s well-being, increase women’s labour force participation, promote gender equality, and grow the economy. In its 2021 budget, the federal government committed $30 billion over the next five years to building a universal system of early learning and child care in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments. In the past year, the federal government has concluded funding agreements with ten provincial governments as well as Northwest, Nunavut, and Yukon Territories. Building a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care is a large and transformative project that requires public funds, public policy and public engagement. 

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Child care advocates stress that construction of a Canada-wide system of ELCC must honour and respect the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework, which sees Indigenous “children and families supported by a comprehensive and coordinated system of ELCC policies, programs and services that are led by Indigenous peoples, rooted in Indigenous knowledges, cultures and languages, and supported by strong partnerships of holistic, accessible and flexible programming that is inclusive of the needs and aspirations of Indigenous children and families.” Further, any and all decisions federal, provincial and territorial governments take with respect to ELCC must honour and respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Calls for Justice issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and Jordan’s Principle


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Child Care Now has identified twelve things that governments must pay particular attention to as they work to build a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care. Public funding is critical, but money alone will not bring about the change needed to meet the needs of children, parents, families, and communities, or the transformation required to make Canada’s economic recovery possible. Find and download our report here.

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Child care advocates in several provinces have developed a roadmap for governments to follow as they move to changing how early learning and child care is funded and delivered. Get in touch with Child Care Now if you want to work with others to develop a roadmap for your province or territory. 




British Columbia