R.J. Simpson: Early Learning and Child Care Strategy and Action Plan

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — March 3, 2022

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Mr. Speaker, this Legislative Assembly has made it a priority to advance universal child care for residents of the Northwest Territories. Today I am honoured to share the highly anticipated results of our work with Canada that will help us achieve this priority.

Mr. Speaker, earlier today, I announced that effective retroactively to January 1st of this year, the average cost of licensed child care for children five years of age and younger will be reduced, on average, by 50 per cent. We will work with child care providers to ensure families are reimbursed for costs incurred since January 1st. Families can expect to see further cost reductions each year, until 2026, when we reach our goal of an average of $10 per day child care.

Mr. Speaker, advancing universal child care is about more than covering costs. It is about improving access to child care, and that is why we have committed to creating 300 new child care spaces across the NWT. It is about supporting the recruitment, retention, and training of early childhood educators. That is why early childhood educators will see their wages rise and reflect the importance of the work they do, and why we are expanding educational and training opportunities for NWT residents.

To support this important work, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment has released its 2030 Early Learning and Child Care Strategy along with the five-year Canada-NWT Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and two-year Action Plan. The strategy provides renewed priorities for improving the quality, affordability, accessibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care in the NWT. Through our federal agreements, the Government of Canada is expected to provide $67.1 million for the NWT’s early learning and child care system over the next five years. Guided by the strategy and action plan, this funding will help us transform the NWT’s entire child care system.

I would like to thank Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, communities, non-profit organizations, licensed early learning and child care programs, and early childhood educators. Their suggestions and recommendations helped develop the 2030 Early Learning and Child Care Strategy, creating a vision for early learning and childcare that will benefit all NWT communities, families and residents. We will continue to support our partners as they continue to create welcoming and inclusive early learning environments that incorporate local cultures and languages and support the developmental needs of all children in their care.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to providing a strong foundation for NWT children in their early years of critical growth and development, making life more affordable for families with children, and strengthening the NWT economy by creating jobs and enabling parents and caregivers to enter the workforce.

Mr. Speaker, these investments and actions will lead to life-long positive impacts on children’s well-being, learning, and development. We will see the long-term benefits of these investments for years to come in all communities across the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.