The Yukon government became the third jurisdiction in Canada to make a deal with the federal government on child care on Friday.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced, alongside other federal officials and the Yukon government, a $41.6 million deal over five years to create an average $10 a day child care option to children under age six.
"COVID-19 has exposed something that women have long-known," Freeland said.
"Without childcare, parents — and it's usually mothers — cannot work. The closing of our schools and childcare centres drove women's participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in two decades."
The agreement is also projected to create 110 new child care spaces over the five years. And, it says it will boost the minimum wage to $30 an hour for fully qualified early childhood educators, supporting the "ongoing implementation" of Yukon's wage grid. It will be the highest minimum wage for early childhood educators in the country.
The agreement also says it will continue its commitment to work with Yukon First Nations make sure Indigenous children in the territory have access to early learning and child care that is "affordable, high-quality and culturally appropriate."
"Spaces that are culturally appropriate and distinctions based for Indigenous children are needed now, more than ever before," said Ahmed Hussen the federal minister of families, children and social development.
Premier Sandy Silver said the move toward more accessible childcare will help "charter the path" to economic recovery.
"By supporting families with universal childcare, we are making lives more affordable for Yukon families," said Silver.
Part of promise for national child-care system
The funds are part of the an announcement the federal government made in April when its 739-page budget document was released. It stipulated it would invest roughly $30 billion over five years to help offset the cost of early learning and child care services throughout the country.
The federal government estimates the COVID-19 pandemic has driven at least 16,000 women out of the job market altogether, while the male labour force has grown by 91,000 over the same period.
B.C., Nova Scotia reach deals
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government had reached a deal with British Columbia on federal child-care funding.
That deal aims to create 30,000 new child care spaces in B.C. in the next five years, with fees for regulated spaces cut in half by the end of next year.
B.C. was the first province to sign on to the Liberal offer laid out in the federal April budget. It pledged $27.2 billion over five years, starting this fiscal year, in new spending to subsidize daycares.
Nova Scotia also signed a $605-million agreement with the federal government this month that will see its child-care costs halved in the province by the end of next year and become on average $10 a day by 2026.