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Pandemic lessons: Ending child and family poverty is possible

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Campaign 2000
Publication Date: 
14 Feb 2023


Summary Recommendations

Child Care

  • Work with provinces and territories to implement set (daily) fees on a sliding ability-to-pay scale, from $0 to a maximum of $10, replacing full user fees and individual parent fee subsidies through operational funding of childcare programs. Ensure that operational funding of childcare services factors in decent, fair compensation for staff.
  • Convene a Canada-wide process to develop Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) workforce strategies that address wages and working conditions, credentials and training, career advancement and professional opportunities.
  • Require provinces/territories to develop public expansion strategies to ensure sufficient public and non-profit service expansion including equitable coverage in low-income, high need and less densely populated communities. This will require enhanced public funding through the ELCC Infrastructure Fund. Attach community benefit agreements to infrastructure investments.
  • Honour, fund and fully implement the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.


Early learning and childcare for low-income families must be a high priority as Canada lays the foundation for a universal childcare system

Across Canada, provinces, territories and First Nations, Inuit and Métis governance organizations are in the first stage of implementing a system of universal childcare. The 2021 federal budget provided Canada's most significant financial and policy commitment to Early Learning and Childcare (ELCC) to date. Committing almost $34 billion over the next five years, with an ongoing federal commitment of an annual $9.2 billion minimum, it promises to build a “Canada-wide, community-based system of quality childcare.” Significantly, the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care agreements (CWELCC) include commitments to affordability, accessibility through not-for-profit expansion, quality, inclusion and the childcare workforce - all evidence-based elements of a quality, universal childcare system.

The budget also committed to building on the 2018 Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework’s (IELCC) distinctions-based approach and First Nations, Inuit and Métis frameworks, specifying $2.5 billion over the next five years, increasing by 3% annually beginning in 2027-28.

Key goals for the transformed ELCC system are resolving the childcare workforce crisis, substantial service expansion and affordable parent fees reduced by an average 50 percent in 2022, further reduced to average $10/day parent fees by 2025-26. To begin transformation to a universal childcare system, Canada entered into agreements with each province and territory. Under these agreements, each jurisdiction has developed a first action plan covering 2021-2023.

The 2022 federal budget then committed to a capital funding allocation to support expansion, earmarking, through the new Early Learning and Child Care Infrastructure Fund, $625 million over four years beginning in 2023-24.

The aim is that all families, no matter where they live and whether low-income, newcomers, precarious or workers with non-standard hours or having a child with a disability, will eventually be able to access services that meet parents’ employment needs and ensure enriching opportunities for their children.

The current situation provides a unique opportunity to create a just, equitable childcare system based on public operational funding of services; low or no fees for parents; decent wages and working conditions for educators; public management to develop and maintain a sufficient supply of quality services through public and non-profit expansion; and dedicated resources for an Indigenous early learning and childcare system led by First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

The lack of affordable, available, high-quality childcare has been a gap in the country’s social and economic infrastructure. Low-income parents, especially single mothers, have been disadvantaged. As the economy recovers, improved access to affordable childcare is essential to close the gender employment and gender-wage gap for low-income women.


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