GNWT to support child care for essential workers responding to COVID-19

Yellowknife — April 24, 2020
News Releases

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) recognizes that supporting access to early learning and child care is essential for healthcare providers, frontline staff and other essential workers to be able to respond to COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories. Today, Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance, and R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), are announcing additional support for essential workers responding to COVID-19 that will ensure access to child care.

The GNWT, through ECE, is providing $5.106 million to immediately create four temporary child care initiatives that will support parents providing essential services during the COVID-19 public health emergency and lessen the financial impacts on licensed family day homes and centre-based child care programs.

The initiatives include:

  1. A $1.9-million subsidy to lower child care costs by 33% for parents who are required to physically attend work and who need child care during COVID-19.
  2. A $1,000 per month wage top-up for child care staff, to ensure both licensed family day homes and centre-based early learning and child care programs are adequately resourced to provide child care services, especially during non-regular hours, for a total value of $1.3 million.
  3. $665,000 in additional resources to ensure licensed child care programs receive adequate support for supplies and labour to carry out enhanced cleaning regimens at child care centres, and to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and clients.
  4. A $1.24-million subsidy to offset a portion of the fixed costs, such as rent and utilities, for licensed early learning and child care programs that have closed due to COVID-19. While ideally child care programs will remain open as essential services wherever possible, this subsidy is designed to support the ability of programs to re-open when the health risks associated with COVID-19 have decreased.

These initiatives will prioritize direct health and allied healthcare workers, as well as any parents required to physically attend a worksite during the pandemic.

ECE has also been working with the Department of Health and Social Services to match child care services with the identified needs of Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA), the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority and the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency staff as an additional level of support for both parents and programs. ECE staff have provided a one-stop registration process for NTHSSA employees to find available child care spots and are matching them with known vacancies in open programs.

The new supports come into effect immediately, and complement the previous two waves of economic measures announced earlier this month to support people, businesses and communities in response to COVID-19, creating a total of $26.565 million in GNWT financial support announced to date.

Quotes:

“Parents who are providing healthcare and other essential services in response to COVID-19 are experiencing increased child care pressures due to self-isolation and physical distancing requirements. Making new financial supports available will help to ensure parents providing essential services in response to COVID-19 are able to continue to serve and protect our territory and will lessen the financial impacts of COVID-19 on licensed family day homes and centre-based early learning and child care programs.”
-R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on our territory and around the world. Our government remains committed to supporting people, businesses and communities that have been directly affected by this pandemic. We are continuing to monitor the situation and to introduce targeted, responsive measures that have been deliberately designed to address the most pressing needs of our people, including those parents who must continue to go in to work to provide necessary services and support to their fellow NWT residents.”
- Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance

Quick Facts:

  • The Government of the Northwest Territories released the first wave of support for NWT residents, businesses and communities on March 20, and the second on March 31, 2020.
  • The continued availability of licensed early learning and child care programs is critical for ensuring essential workers in the NWT can continue providing services to residents of the NWT throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, including healthcare services impacted. 
  • Economic support measures in the NWT are intended to complement financial supports implemented by the Government of Canada.

Links:

For all COVID-19 media requests, contact:

Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
presssecretary@gov.nt.ca