Quality childcare is essential to the health and development of children, supports workforce participation for parents and contributes to a thriving economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for affordable and accessible child care across Canada. Now, Premier Rankin led the way in Canada by becoming one of the first provinces in the country to partner with the federal government to deliver universal childcare for Nova Scotian families.
The ability to access high-quality early learning and care has profound academic, social and economic impacts for children and families.
The Liberal government has signed the new Canada-Nova Scotia Early Learning & Child Care Agreement, an historic $645 million commitment. This agreement will make childcare much more affordable for families, while expanding access to quality care across Nova Scotia.
Currently, in parts of the province, the average cost of childcare is $44 per day. By next year, families in Nova Scotia will pay 50% less for regulated child care, and by 2026, child care will cost an average of $10 a day. The Liberal Party’s commitment to providing affordable, high-quality, inclusive child care and early learning will support parents, especially women, to enter or re-enter the labour force.
“This is a game-changer for Nova Scotian families – better quality care that is more affordable and accessible. A Canada-wide early learning and child care system has been talked about for decades, and I’m proud that our province is at the forefront of making this a reality for Nova Scotian families.” —Premier Iain Rankin
Major Increases in Childcare Spaces
The agreement will create 9,500 new childcare spaces including increased spaces for infants and toddlers.
Play-based early learning programs will be introduced for three-year-olds, expanding service into rural communities currently without childcare options, while wrap-around programs will extend service to before and after hours to increase flexibility for working parents.
The addition of 7,500 new wrap-around spaces by 2026 will ensure each child’s day is seamless, while reducing the need for parents to make alternative arrangements for child care.
Priority will be given to vulnerable and equity seeking families, providing those with socioeconomic barriers to childcare secure access to an affordable, high-quality service.
Oversight and management of all child care operations, including fees, wages and policies will be provided by a newly established provincial entity. All currently funded operators and agencies, both commercial and not-for-profit will have access to funding under this agreement, including:
- workforce development fund
- reduced fees for parents
- wage package for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs)
Investing in Early Childhood Educators
As our government embarks upon this transformational expansion of our childcare system, we recognize that investments in childcare spaces must be matched with investment in the individuals providing quality care to our children. As such, we will ensure that childcare services continue to be provided by qualified early childhood educators, who are intrinsically valued professionals supported with opportunities for further training and enhancement of their skills.
Our early childhood workforce strategy is grounded in the belief that successful early childhood learning requires a workforce that is diverse and inclusive, supported by access to lifelong learning and is professionally recognized.
We are investing $10.9 million in our early childhood workforce, training hundreds more Early Childhood Educators while covering the cost of tuition and books for over 300 current childcare and pre-primary staff to upgrade their credentials.
The workforce strategy includes opportunities for underrepresented groups to access designated seats for ECE certification, ensuring Mi’kmaq and Indigenous people, African Nova Scotians, Acadian and francophone Nova Scotians and newcomers can pursue careers in early childhood education.
We will further enhance the workforce by taking a systematic approach to professional certification, developing a compensation framework that will reflect education, speciality training, and years of work experience.
The Liberal Government is prioritizing Nova Scotian families. Implementing the Canada-Nova Scotia Early Learning & Child Care Agreement will deliver affordable, inclusive and high quality child care that is universally accessible, while investing in and supporting the workforce that provides valuable services to our children.