Expansion by design

Pan-Canadian growth of Early Learning and Child Care since 2008

Downloadable Version

This report is available for download in PDF format.

Introduction

Project overview

This report is produced as part of a larger project funded by the Employment and Social Development Canada’s Early Learning and Child Care Innovation Program, called ‘Growth by Design: Expanding Early Learning and Child Care in Canada’ (2023-2026).

  • Identify the barriers and facilitators that impact the capacity of public and not-for-profit providers to expand licensed ELCC
  • Engage the not-for-profit ELCC community, ELCC allies and public stakeholders in innovative thinking and capacity building to expand access to affordable, accessible and high quality ELCC
  • Identify, describe and assess innovative practices and public policies that have supported the expansion of not-for-profit and public ELCC
  • Increase awareness and enable knowledge transfer about effective mechanisms and innovative practices to support the expansion of quality, affordable, accessible not-for-profit and public ELCC

This project is being undertaken in the context of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) agreements between the federal government and each of the provinces and territories. In the 2021 budget, the federal government committed over $27 billion over five years (2021-2026) to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system for children aged 0 to 6 years. This involved forming bilateral agreements with the 13 provinces and territories. The agreements included annual Action Plans that outline the funding that is transferred from the federal government to each of the provinces and territories, plus the individual provincial and territorial funding commitments over this period. The $27.2 billion is intended to achieve a reduction in parent fees, properly value the work of early childhood educators, and support expansion of not-for-profit child care services. 

The expansion targets set out in the federal-provincial/territorial agreements amount to over 275,000 new spaces across Canada between 2021 and 2026. This target can be compared to a total increase of approximately 85,000 spaces in the five year period from 2016 to 2021, with the caveat that growth in this earlier period was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s also important to note that the earlier period 2016-2021 includes licensed centre-based spaces for 0-5 years plus family child care for 0-12 years (noting that most family child care spaces are used by 0-5 year olds). The number of family child care spaces includes enrolment of children 0-12 as age breakdowns are not usually available. The 2021-2026 targets under CWELCC include licensed centre-based and family child care spaces (See Appendix 5.1 for a breakdown for provinces and territories for these two time periods). 

This document forms part of the first phase of the project, Growth by Design, which is to track expansion of child care spaces in the years leading up to the implementation of the CWELCC agreements. This report will be complemented by further policy analysis at the provincial and territorial level to better understand if and how these and future trends are being shaped by investments and the design of policy mechanisms. Other phases of the project include jurisdictional case studies and review of international policy approaches that support the expansion of public and not-for-profit ELCC.

The purpose of this pan-Canadian environmental scan is to look at historical trends in child care expansion prior to the CWELCC agreements, specifically the time period 2008 to 2021. These trends help to inform our analysis of the growth under the CWELCC agreements and understand its impact on expansion. 

While the focus of this scan and CWELCC is on children 0 to 5 years old, we are including before and after school care (BASC) as the Government of Canada has previously announced that it intends to help support 200,000 new BASC spaces. 

Key trends

The total number of centre-based spaces for 0-12 year olds almost doubled between 2008 and 2021.

  • The total number of centre-based spaces for 0-12 year olds increased from 728,775 to 1,381,216 between 2008 and 2021, representing a 90% increase in centre-based spaces over a 13 year period, and an average annual growth rate of 5 per cent.

Regulated family child care spaces are decreasing

  • The total number of family child care spaces across Canada decreased from 142,327 to 108,574 between 2008 and 2021, representing a 24% decrease in family child care spaces during this period. 
  • Nine of 13 PTs experienced a decrease in family child care spaces between 2008 and 2021.

Before and after school spaces have increased at a faster rate than spaces for 0-5 year olds.

  • The number of centre-based spaces for 0-5 year olds increased from 388,324 to 627,333, representing a 62% increase. The number of before and after school spaces (BASC) increased from 338,721 to 753,883, representing a 122% increase between 2008 and 2021

For-profit child care is expanding at a faster rate than not-for-profit childcare. 

  • There was an increase of 220,930 for-profit spaces and an increase of 436,655 not-for-profit spaces between 2008 and 2021. This represents a 119% increase in for-profit spaces and an 81% increase in not-for-profit spaces over this time.
  • In eight jurisdictions, more than 50% of full day spaces were for profit in 2021, ranging from 55% in Quebec to 76% in Alberta.
  • In 9/13 jurisdictions there was an increase in the proportion of for-profit spaces between 2008 and 2021. In two jurisdictions there was a decrease (ON and NB), and in two jurisdictions spaces remained all not-for-profit spaces (NT and NU)

There’s been a decrease in part-day spaces for children 0-5 years in most provinces and territories between 2008 and 2021.

  • There was a decrease in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba. The number of spaces remains stable in Alberta, British Columbia, and Nunavut. 

The proportion of children aged 0 to 5 for whom there is a full- or part-day licensed centre-based space has increased since 2008. 

  • For Canada as a whole, the number of spaces expanded from 1 space per every 5 children aged 0-5 years (20.3%) in 2008 to one space for every 3.5 children by 2021 (28%). 
  • The number of licensed full- or part-day spaces for 0-5 year olds increased in 11/13 PTs. In two PTs (NT and NL) there was a slight decrease due to the introduction full-day kindergarten for 5-year olds in NT and the recategorization of spaces for kindergarten in NL in 2021.
  • There was an increase in the number of licensed infant spaces for all PTs between 2008 and 2021, except for the Yukon.

Pan-Canadian snapshot 2008 – 2021

This section presents key trends across Canada, specifically the expansion of spaces by setting (centre-based, family child care), age and type (0-5 and before and after school, or BASC), and auspice (for-profit, not-for-profit and public). It takes a pan-Canadian perspective, highlighting notable capturing key space figures and trends at a national level. 

Overall, there was an increase from 871,102 to 1,489,790 regulated places between 2008 and 2021 (see Figure 1), representing a 71% increase in regulated spaces across Canada during the time period. 

Figure 1: Total regulated child care spaces, 0-12 years, Canada, by setting, 2008-2021
Figure 1: Total regulated child care spaces, 0-12 years, Canada, by setting, 2008-2021

As presented in Figure 1, most of the growth in spaces was in centre-based settings. Across Canada, the total number of centre-based spaces increased from 728,775 to 1,381,216 between 2008 and 2021. This compares with family child care where spaces across Canada decreased from 142,327 to 108,574. This represented a 90% increase of centre-based spaces between 2008 and 2021, compared with family child care, which decreased by 24% across this same period.

Figure 2 shows that the total number of family child care spaces decreased as a proportion of all regulated spaces, from 16.3% in 2008 to 7.3% in 2021, which means that licensed family child care represents less than half as many of the total regulated spaces in 2021, compared with 2008. 

Figure 2 Regulated family child care spaces, numbers and proportion of all regulated spaces, 0 to 12 years, 2008 to 2021

In addition to looking at trends in licensed care settings (centre-based and family child care), we can also look more closely at changes by age and type of care within centre-based care. Figure 3 below shows the total growth of licensed centre-based spaces for 0-5 year olds and before and after school (BASC) spaces between 2008 and 2021. The number of BASC spaces grew by 122% over this period, while the number of 0-5 spaces grew by 62% over this period. 

Figure 3 Number of licensed centre-based child care spaces, by age group, Canada, 2008-2021

Although there were different patterns across PTs (see section 3), and over the earlier (2008-2016) and later (2016-2021) periods, the overall proportion of for-profit and not-for-profit spaces remained relatively stable over the period 2008 to 2021 across Canada as a whole. The total proportion of for-profit spaces during this period ranged from 26% (in 2008) to 29% (in 2021). 

Figure 4 Number of licensed centre-based spaces, by auspice, Canada, 2008-2021

There was a total increase of 220,930 for-profit spaces and an increase of 436,655 not-for-profit spaces between 2008 and 2021. This represents a 119% increase in for-profit spaces and an 81% increase in not-for-profit spaces over this time. Thus, across Canada as a whole, for-profit child care has grown at a higher rate, compared with not-for-profit child care.  Between 2008 and 2016, the growth rate of for-profit spaces was 74%, compared with 59% growth in not-for-profit. In the latter period, between 2016 and 2021, the growth rate of for-profit spaces was lower than the previous period (at 26%), but still higher than the growth of not-for-profit spaces during this time (at 14%). Looking at the most recent reporting period, from 2019 to 2021, there was a slight decrease of not-for-profit centre-based spaces between 2019 and 2021, and a slight increase in for-profit spaces from 2019 to 2021 (approximately 26,000 spaces).

Provincial territorial overviews

While section 2 outlined key trends at the pan-Canadian level, this section tracks these trends across provinces and territories. 

Total space trends and coverage rates

As Figure 1 showed, there was a total increase in spaces between 2008 and 2021, and most years in between. 

Three provinces, however, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec experienced a decrease in spaces between 2019 and 2021. This slight decrease in total licensed spaces in this period can be attributed to the impacts of Covid-19 on centre closures in 2020 and 2021, the introduction of full-day kindergarten in some jurisdictions, or changes to the licensed categories in which 4 to 5 year old children are included.

Growth in licensed centre-based spaces

As Figure 1 showed, the total number of centre-based spaces increased between 2008 and 2021, while the total number of licensed family child care spaces decreased over this time. This trend did, though, vary across provinces and territories. 

During this period, all provinces and territories recorded a growth in centre-based spaces, ranging from a 14% increase (Nova Scotia) to a 124% increase (in Saskatchewan).  

Table 1: Growth in licensed centre-based spaces, 0-12 years, by PT, 2008 and 2021
PT20082021Net growth 2008-2021Growth rate
NL5,5757,4191,84433%
PE4,3896,3091,92044%
NS13,60115,5481,94714%
NB15,16131,43616,275107%
QC280,138554,851274,71398%
ON240,896464,538223,64293%
MB23,54435,08511,54149%
SK6,84315,3608,517124%
AB62,314131,80169,487112%
BC72,903114,63341,73057%
YT1,0301,45842842%
NT1,3681,57120315%
NU1,0131,20719419%
Table 1: Growth in licensed centre-based spaces, 0-12 years, by PT, 2008 and 2021

Figure 5, shows the growth in licensed centre-based spaces in the five years between 2016 and 2021. This time frame aligns with spaces created in response to the 2017 Bilateral Funding Agreements. During this time, all PTs recorded a growth in spaces except for Nova Scotia where the decrease reflects the introduction of full-day Pre-Primary for 4-year olds in the education system.

Figure 5: Growth in licensed centre-based spaces, 0-12 years, by PT, between 2016 and 2021

More discussion of centre-based spaces and expansion is included in sections 3.2 and 3.3, in relation to the distribution by ages and by auspice.

Trends in family child care spaces

Unlike the growth in centre based care in every jurisdiction, nine of 13 PTs experienced a decrease in family child care spaces between 2008 and 2021. Four PTs – Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Nunavut experienced an increase in family child care spaces, with Nova Scotia increasing at the highest rate from just 110 spaces in 2008 to 1,190 in 2021. In New Brunswick, the number of family child care spaces gradually increased from 2008 to 2019 and then decreased from 2019 to 2021, resulting in a 184% increase in family child care spaces between 2008 and 2021. 

Figure 6 presents family child care spaces as a proportion of all licensed spaces, for all PTs, in 2008 and 2021. While the number of family child care spaces remained relatively stable in many PTs during the decade, this illustrates that family child care as a proportion of all licensed spaces decreased across most PTs in Canada, with exceptions being Newfoundland and Labrador (from 7% to 8%), Nova Scotia (from 1% to 7%) and Nunavut (from 0 to 3%). This is reflective of both a push to expand licensed family child care through funding, and also in the case of Nova Scotia a decrease of licensed centre-based spaces, as noted in the previous section.

Figure 6: Family child care spaces as a proportion of all regulated spaces, 0-12 years, 2008 and 2021

Centre-based spaces by type and age group

Generally, across most jurisdictions, there was an increase in full-day spaces for children aged 0-5 years old, an increase in before and after school spaces (BASC), and a corresponding decrease in the number of part-day spaces for children aged 0-5 years old. This pattern is particularly noticeable in some PTs in years immediately following the introduction of new kindergarten programs. 

There were differences across PTs by types and age groups, which are described in more detail throughout this section.

Centre-based spaces for 0-5 year olds: full- and part-day

Centre-based spaces for 0-5 year olds grew in all PTs except for Newfoundland and Labrador, and Northwest Territories (Figure 7). The slight decrease in Northwest Territories is likely attributed to the introduction of full-day kindergarten for 5 year olds territory-wide, and the introduction of full- and part-day kindergarten for 4 year olds, depending on the community. The decrease in Newfoundland and Labrador is likely due to NL recategorizing spaces for children in kindergarten as school aged care in 2021. 

Figure 7: Total number of licensed centre-based spaces for 0-5 year olds (full- and part-day), by PT, 2008-2021

Coverage rates

In addition to looking at the total number of spaces and growth, it’s also important to consider how these numbers relate to the total number of children in each of the jurisdictions as this impacts the demand for licensed child care and, ultimately, the proportion of children who are accessing licensed child care.

Figure 8 shows the proportion of children aged 0 to 5 for whom there is a full- or part-day licensed centre-based space. This is sometimes referred to as the coverage rate. For Canada as a whole, the number of spaces expanded from 1 space per every 5 children aged 0-5 years (20.3%) in 2008 to one space for every 3.5 children by 2021 (28%). However, these numbers varied across the provinces in territories. 

When comparing coverage rates across jurisdictions, it’s important to remember that one space may be accessed by 2 or more children in preschool/nursery schools where spaces are part-day (morning and afternoon sessions) or part-week (i.e. 2-3 days/week). This is particularly relevant for Alberta and British Columbia, where the number of part-day spaces is higher. In 2021, the highest coverage rates for children 0-5 years old were in the Yukon (48.6%), PEI (44.6%), and Quebec (42.8%); while the lowest coverage rates were in Saskatchewan (17.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (19.5%), Ontario (21.3%) and Northwest Territories (22.4%). Under the CWELCC Agreements, most provinces have set a target of 59% by 2026.

Figure 8: Proportion of children aged 0-5 years for whom there is a full- or part-day centre-based space (%), by PT, 2008 and 2021

Part-day spaces

Due to different definitions and calculations for age groups and part-day/full-day spaces, it is difficult to track the number of spaces Canada-wide by age group or by part-day/full-day status. For eight of the 13 jurisdictions, we can track changes to the number of part-day spaces between 2008 and 2021. As Figure 9 shows, there was a decrease in the number of part-day spaces in each of the jurisdictions reporting part day spaces, with the exception of Nunavut, which showed a slight increase. 

For the other five jurisdictions, Saskatchewan and Yukon do not license part-day preschool/nursery school spaces; and Ontario, Quebec and Northwest Territories do not report on part-day spaces.  

Figure 9: Number of part-day 0-5 spaces, by PT, 2008 and 2021

Age breakdown: Infant spaces

Infants are regularly identified as an age cohort with more limited access to licensed spaces. Although PTs define the infant cohort differently (from 0-12 months to 0-36 months), we can see that across PTs there was an increase in the number of licensed infant spaces for all PTs between 2008 and 2021 and (Figure 10 and Figure 11), with the exception of the Yukon, there was an increased proportion of infants spaces across this period.

Figure 10: Total centre-based infant spaces, by PT, 2008-2021

*These figures are based on each jurisdictions’ definition of infant spaces, ranging from 0-18 months, to 0 to 3 years

  • NL: the number of infant spaces was not reported in 2016.
  • QC: The 2008 and 2021 figure is 0-18 months, the 2016 figure is 0-12 months
  • AB: the 2008 figure also includes ‘toddler’ spaces, defined as 13 to 19 months to be more in line with other PT definitions of infant age spaces.

Looked at another way, Figure 11 shows the number of infant spaces as a percentage of all licensed spaces for 0-5 year olds, in 2008 and 2021. This illustrates that, in most PTs (exceptions being Saskatchewan and the Yukon), the number of infant spaces increased relative to total spaces.

Figure 11: Centre-based infant spaces as a proportion of all licensed centre-based 0-5 spaces, all PTs, 2008 and 2021

Before and after school (BASC) spaces

A number of provinces and territories had a significant increase in the number of licensed or approved before and after school spaces (BASC) between 2008 and 2021. As noted, the increase in BASC spaces is likely attributed to the introduction of part- or full-day kindergarten for 4- and 5-year olds. In other PTs expansion of BASC is the result of a more concerted effort to increase the number of spaces. 

Table 2 shows the expansion of BASC was greatest in Newfoundland and Labrador, with the total number almost tripling between 2008 and 2021. This is likely due to the introduction of full-day kindergarten in 2016 and a recategorization of children in kindergarten from preschool age to school-aged care. This was followed by Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec, where the number of spaces more than doubled in each of these provinces during this period.

Table 2: Number of licensed Before and after school spaces (BASC), by PT, 2008-2021
 200820162021
QC162,992330,002340,683
ON107,156231,514283,780
AB19,48238,88350,985
BC28,23332,72038,419
NB7,16213,62316,214
MB7,57410,32712,136
NS2,6884,2973,589
NL7359422,717
PE1,5881,3222,384
SK9991,5011,625
NT453434808
YT253154388
NU135137155

Trends in ownership: auspice of centre-based care

Across Canada, although the total proportion of for-profit child care remained fairly steady over the period 2008 to 2021, there were notable differences between jurisdictions (Figure 12). When looking at the expansion of spaces across Canada, the public spaces have been included in the not-for-profit numbers because the number of public spaces are often not separated in PT data calculations. 

Figure 12 Number and distribution of licensed centre-based spaces, 0-12 years, by auspice and PT, 2008 and 2021

Figure 13 shows the proportion of all centre-based licensed spaces for 0-12 years that are for-profit in 2016 and 2021, illustrating more recent increases in for-profit child care in some PTs since 2016.

Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, PEI, and Alberta have maintained high proportions of for-profit spaces, at between 63 and 70%. Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the two jurisdictions that have maintained all not-for-profit spaces, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba have very minimal (2% and 5% respectively) for-profit spaces. The proportion of for-profit spaces has increased in Quebec from 14% to 21% between 2008 and 2021. This rise of for-profit spaces in Quebec can be attributed to the increased rate of tax credits, which allows families to obtain a refundable tax credit when using private child care services. In Ontario there was a slight increase in for-profit provision, from 21% to 24%. Nova Scotia and British Columbia are evenly split, both experiencing an increase that has brought the total proportion of for-profit spaces above 50% in 2021. Ontario and Quebec, two of the more populated provinces, have generally lower proportions of for-profit spaces, which contributed to the total proportion of for-profit spaces across Canada increasing from 26% to 29% during this time.

Figure 13: Proportion of licensed centre-based child care spaces that are for-profit, by PT, 2016 and 2021

NB: Accurate figures for YT are not available for 2016

Auspice by age and type

Looking at spaces for 0-5 year olds only, Figure 14 shows for-profit spaces as a proportion of full-day 0-5 spaces. In eight provinces and territories more than half the spaces were for profit, ranging from 55% in Quebec, to 76% in Alberta. 

Figure 14: Proportion (%) of full-time centre-based 0-5 spaces that are for-profit, all PTs, 2021

Note: The % are calculated using the total for-profit, not-for-profit and public spaces (full-day) in Early childhood education and care in Canada 2021.  For MB this includes spaces for kindergarten-aged children.

For three of the provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and British Columbia) auspice data are available from 2008, which allow us to track for-profit spaces as a proportion of all full-day centre-based 0-5 spaces.  This shows that the proportion of for-profit full-day spaces for 0-5 year olds increased from 34% in 2008 to 55% in 2021 in Quebec, and from 45% to 65% in British Columbia. The proportion decreased from 84% to 74% in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Figure 15 shows the proportion of part-day spaces, for 0-5 and BASC, in 2021 that were for-profit.  Notably, for Quebec and Ontario, the proportion of for-profit spaces is much higher for 0-5 year olds, compared with for BASC. In 2021, the proportion of for-profit spaces of all full-day 0-5 spaces in Quebec was 55%, compared with 0% for BASC (which are all publicly operated). And, in Ontario, 42% of full-day spaces for 0-5 year olds were for-profit, compared with only 8% of BASC spaces. The high proportion of for-profit spaces among 0-5 year olds in Quebec can be attributed to the introduction of a tax credit in 2009 that encouraged the expansion of for-profit providers.

Figure 15 Proportion of part-day centre-based spaces that are for-profit, by age, all PTs, 2021
  • Notes:
    • SK and YT do not license part-day centres for 0-5 year olds.
    • ON and QC do not break down full-day and part-day 0-5 year old spaces.

Tracking public expansion

For the first time in 2021, Early childhood education and care in Canada 2021 collected information from the PTs on public child care spaceswhich includes spaces operated by a municipality or municipal entity, a school authority, an Indigenous governing body or other government agency. Most provinces and territories have some amount of public child care, usually operated by an Indigenous governing body, and in some provinces and territories some municipalities, hamlets and school authorities operate licensed child care. Most notably, all before and after school care in Quebec is operated by school authorities. As subsequent editions of Early childhood education and care in Canada gather more information on publicly delivered ELCC, the details will be included in our project’s expansion data. 

Indigenous ELCC spaces

The licensing, funding and monitoring of First Nations, Métis and Inuit centres varies across the provinces and territories. In some jurisdictions all Indigenous centres on reserve or on Inuit lands are licensed, in some licensing is optional, or they are licensed by invitation and, in some Indigenous centres are not licensed. The same is true for Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve (AHSOR). While Indigenous-led full-day centres not on reserve or on Inuit lands tend to be licensed, licensing of Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) varies across jurisdictions. Funding for Indigenous ELCC comes from a variety of provincial and federal sources, including through the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) Framework, Indigenous Services Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, the Public Health Agency and PT governments.

Key Indigenous programs include:

  • licensed centres and family child care on reserve and Inuit lands
  • unlicensed centres and family child care on reserve and Inuit lands
  • Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve (AHSOR)
  • Indigenous-led centres not on reserve
  • Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC)

For further detail and context of First Nations, Inuit and Métis child care across Canada, please see CRRU’s 2021 ECEC in Canada report. Notably, the 2021 federal budget allocated $2.5 billion investment in Indigenous ELCC to support programs and services, infrastructure, governance and partnerships building.

Information on Indigenous ELCC spaces is not available in a consistent manner across PTs. However, it may be possible to track growth in future years under both the IELCC and CWELCC agreements. 

Table 3: Summary of Indigenous spaces and programs, on reserve and not on reserve, by PT, 2021
JurisdictionOn reserveNot on reserve
Number of licensed spaces (programs) on First Nations reserves/Inuit landsNumber of AHSOR spaces (programs)Number of licensed Indigenous-led spaces (programs) not on reserve or Inuit landNumber of AHSUNC spaces (programs)
NL95 spaces(2 unlicensed programs)35 spaces(3 unlicensed programs)
PE(2 programs)(1 program)(1 centre)(1 program)
NS(12 unlicensed centres)(13 unlicensed centres)26 spaces (unlicensed)(6 unlicensed centres)
NB189 spaces
(7 unlicensed centres)


(15 programs, licensed/unlicensed)


(2 unlicensed centres)


(1 licensed program)
QC2,824 spaces
(66 licensed centres)
707 spaces
(9 centres)


(41 licensed programs)


(28 programs)
ON3,477 spaces
(74 licensed centres)


123 programs


14 programs
MB35 spaces
(1 licensed centre)


(42 unlicensed programs)
569 licensed spaces
(17 licensed programs)


(20 programs, 2 which are licensed)
SK146 spaces
(2 centres)
77 spaces (unlicensed)

(15 programs)
AB196 licensed spaces
(5 licensed centres, plus 39 unlicensed centres)



49 licensed programs
247 licensed spaces
(6 licensed centres)
363 licensed spaces
(16 licensed centres, and 4 unlicensed programs)
BC636 OOSC spaces
(110 full-day licensed centres)
153 spaces
(7 licensed programs)
6,600 licensed spaces
(239 licensed centres)
53 licensed spaces
(10 licensed programs)
YK
There are no First Nations reserves in the Yukon
273 licensed spaces
(8 licensed centres operated by First Nations governments)
4 unlicensed programs
NT140 licensed spaces
(1 licensed centre on K’atlodeeche First Nation)


(1 licensed centre on K’atlodeeche First Nation Reserve)
(Many of the 61 licensed not-for-profit centres are operated by regional Indigenous governing bodies or Indigenous-led organizations)(8 programs, 6 which are licensed)
NU2All land considered Inuit lands(59 FNICCI funded centres)(7 licensed centres) 

1 Licensed child care centres are operated by Indigenous governing bodies, as well as other public entities and not-for-profit organizations

2 Most NU child care is delivered by not-for-profit societies or local District Education Authorities, with several operated by hamlets.

In addition to tracking the number of Indigenous spaces and programs, Table 4 presents a summary of defined, or earmarked, commitments to expanding or investing in Indigenous ELCC, as outlined in the CWELCC Agreements. These stated commitments are additional to Indigenous-focused actions to improve data collection and monitoring of the number of Indigenous children in ELCC, to develop plans for inclusion, and intentions to work collaboratively with Indigenous organizations. 

Table 4 Indigenous commitments in federal-provincial/territorial CWELCC Agreements
PTSummary of CWELCC commitment to Indigenous ELCC
NLBy March 2025 Newfoundland and Labrador aim to create an additional 165 spaces for Indigenous communities
PEMore than 400 training grants in 2021-22 and 2022-23 for the ELCC workforce, of which 60 will be prioritized for low cinome, Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities, and newcomers to Canada
NS
NB
QC
ON
MBIndigenous Programming GrantKa Ni Kanichihk Building Expansion – $300,000 development and programming grant to the Ka Ni Kanichihk organization
SKIn fiscal year 2021 to 2022 and fiscal year 2022 to 2023, Saskatchewan will invest in engaging with First Nations and Métis organizations to develop a plan for a coordinated system that reflects the needs and demands of Saskatchewan’s First Nations and Métis peoples that is centred on children, grounded in culture, guided by leaders in indigenous early learning and child care in the province
AB
BCCommitments for 2021-22 and 2022-23 include:$8.66 m in Operational funds to support 400 spaces to transition to AHS model$1.34 in Minor capital funds to improve quality of transitioned AHS spaces$1 m in Métis CCRR program$1 m Funding to support Indigenous governments engaging with rights-holders on Indigenous-led childcare$1.84 m in Minor capital funds to improve quality of provincially and federally funded transitioned AHS spaces and to provide capital project expertise$30 m Capital funding to create 600 new Indigenous-led spaces across the province informed through engagement in fiscal year 2021 to 2022
YTThe Yukon includes $2.9 million in each fiscal year, 2021-22 and 2022-23 to Indigenous ELCC.$1 million cumulative in 2021-22 and 2022-23 to create 50 spaces for First Nations and minotiry language spaces
NT
NUNunavut Tunngavik Incorporated(NTI) leads the Inuit-specific Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IIELCC) work in Nunavut. 

Appendix

Space expansion tracking and targets 

PTActual number of new FTE spaces in the five years leading up to CWELCC agreements (2016-2021)Target expansion of new FTE spaces for 0-5 year olds by 2026 (2021-2026) in CWELCC AgreemensAdditional information about space targets included in CWELCC Agreements
NL-1,8925,895Implementation of pre-K (rolled out between 2022 and 2025 as licensed child care) – by March 2023 create 500 full-day spaces (YMCA)
PE634351.5 (end 2023)Increase family child care homes by 150%Increase non-standard hours spaces (115 spaces)
NS-1,6992,400 2000 spaces for 3 year olds in schools (by 2023)1100 increase in family child care spaces by 2022-231850 increase in family child care by 2025-2611,556 total new spaces by 2025-26
NB2,9743,4002400 in not-for-profit sector1000 for-profit with NB early learning facility designation
QC15,02330,000Use federal funds to add 30,000 low-fee funded spaces (reduced contribution spaces)
ON19,43686,000 42,000 new spaces (2019 to end of 2023)76,000 spaces by (since 2019, by March 2026)
MB2,32723,0001,700 extended hour spaces (2022-23)1,450 part-time spaces by 2022-23 (flexible child care spaces)
SK2,99628,0006000 new spaces for 0-5 years (by 2021-22)6,100 new spaces by end 2022-23
AB26,97068,70042,500 not-for-profit spaces 
26,200 for-profit spaces: 3,700 target agreed to in original CWELCC agreement, plus up to an additional 22,500 allowed by the federal government once Alberta submitted its  “Cost Control Framework and For-Profit Expansion Plan” 
BC18,12930,00040,000 new spaces by 2027-28
5,980 new spaces by 2022-23 ($10/day not-for-profit/public/Indigenous/family child care)40,000 new spaces by 2027-28Up to 600 new low/no fee Indigenous-led spaces and 400 Head Start spaces by 2023-24
YT28911050 new spaces in 2021-23 60 new spaces from 2023-2026
NT-14730075 spaces per year from 2022-23 to 2025-26
Achieve child care coverage of 59% by 2025-26
NU185238172 school-based, 18 community based, 48 in licensed home daycareTarget of 18 spaces for children in foster care
CAN85,225c. 278,394

Source: Adapted from CRRU (2023) 

Method and sources

The report draws heavily on the data presented in the Childcare Resource and Research Unit’s (CRRU) Eary Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Canada series and other reports, and is complemented by review of secondary sources, such as media releases and related policy documents and reports. 

It should be emphasized that the figures and charts presented are calculated using the CRRU ECEC in Canada series. The total space figures were calculated through the following steps:

  1. Review of annual report space statistics (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019, 2021), by province and territory (PT), to produce a table with numbers for each PT with the following breakdowns, where available:
    1. By setting
      1. Total centre-based, equal to the sum of (b.) below
      2. Total family child care
    2. By type and age
      1. Centre-based 0-5 years (breakdown by part-day/full-day where available)
        1. Infant
        2. Toddler
        3. Preschool
      2. Before and after school care (BASC)
    3. By auspice
      1. For-profit
      2. Not-for-profit
      3. Public (often reported in not-for-profit until 2021)
    4. Total licensed, equal to the sum of a(i) and a(ii) above 

Limitations: It should be noted that, due to the different methods for calculating spaces in some provinces and territories (PTs), the total number of licensed, or centre-based spaces, does not always add up to the sum of its parts. For example, the total licensed spaces (centre-based plus family child care) in 2019 and 2021 across Canada does not equal the sum of the for-profit and not-for-profit spaces.

References

Beach, J, Friendly, M., Ferns, C., Prabhu, N., Forer, B. (2009), Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada 2008, CRRU: Toronto.

Beach, J., Friendly, M., Nguyễn, T., Borges-Nogueira, P., Taylor, M., Mohamed, S., Rothman, L., Forer, B. (2023), Early childhood education and care in Canada 2021, 13th Edition. CRRU: Toronto.

Child Care Now (2021), Canada’s Roadmap to Affordable Child Care for ALL, available from: https://childcarenow.ca/2021/07/06/canadas-roadmap-to-affordable-child-care-for-all/ [accessed February 6, 2024] 

CRRU (2023) A Summary of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreements and Action Plans, CRRU: Toronto. Available from https://childcarecanada.org/sites/default/files/Summary-ECEC%20Agreements-Action-Plans_0.pdf [accessed February 6, 2024]

Friendly, M., and Beach, J. (2013) The state of early childhood education and care in Canada 2010: Trends and analysis, CRRU: Toronto. 

Friendly, M., Halfon, S., Beach, J., and Forer, B. (2013) Early childhood education and Care in Canada 2012, 9th Edition. CRRU: Toronto.

Friendly, M., Grady, B., Macdonald, L., and Forer, B. (2015), Early childhood education and care in Canada 2014, 10th Edition. CRRU: Toronto.

Friendly, M., Larsen, E., Feltham, L., Grady, B., Forer, B., and Jones, M. (2018) Early childhood education and care in Canada 2016, 11th Edition. CRRU: Toronto

Friendly, M., Feltham, L., Mohamed, S., Nguyen, T., Vickerson, R., and Forer, B. (2020) Early childhood education and care in Canada 2019, 12th Edition. CRRU: Toronto 

Government of Canada (2023). ‘Early Learning and Child Care Agreements’, available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/early-learning-child-care-agreement/agreements-provinces-territories.html [accessed February 8, 2024]