The Liberal government will make its commitment to early learning and child care permanent, Prime Minister Paul Martin today announced.
To that end, a Liberal government will invest at least an additional $6 billion to finance the program through to 2015, providing provinces and territories with the certainty they need to expand their investments.
“This is about making affordable child care a permanent addition to our social foundation. It’s about making clear that this program is here to stay – because it’s right for Canadian families, and it’s what’s right for our children,” said the Prime Minister. “We are investing in the Canadians of tomorrow, in a progressive social policy that will help our children enter school ready to succeed.”
Furthermore, child care spaces will be made an eligible area of investment when the government renews pertinent infrastructure programs, such as the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund and the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. This will provide the capital required to ensure our children have the child care they need.
Social Development Minister Ken Dryden said today’s announcement turns “our child care promise into a national reality. This is an initiative that will stand the test of time, making a real and lasting difference in the lives of our children and in our country.”
As part of its 2004 election platform, the Liberal government pledged to invest $5 billion over five years to establish a national early learning and child care system. All 10 provinces have now signed on to the Liberal government’s plan, which is backed by a five-year, $5-billion funding commitment announced in Budget 2005.
Today’s announcement means that, after the initial five-year funding agreement concludes, ongoing funding of $1.2 billion per year will be provided to provinces and territories.
Working with the provinces and territories, the Liberal government is building a nation-wide system that embraces the shared principles of quality care, universal inclusiveness, accessibility and an emphasis on development and learning. Provinces and territories are able to implement programs that address their specific needs and objectives, while meeting measurable national standards.
This will mean that Canadian children will benefit from safe, secure regulated facilities, licensed instructors, and an emphasis on learning and development.
The Liberal Early Learning and Child Care plan is already making a positive difference for Canadian families. For instance:
- In British Columbia subsidies are now being provided for the care of an additional 10,000 children;
- In Ontario, 25,000 new regulated child care spaces will be created by April 2008;
- Manitoba has committed to improving wages and training for early childhood educators and will ensure that children with disabilities have equal access to newly licensed child care spaces; and
- Alberta has implemented measures to make regulated child care more affordable for low- and middle-income families.
The Liberal government has also committed to developing a National Quality Framework, as a guide for the enhancement of quality early learning and child care programs and services, providing the basis for the development of guidelines and forward-looking, evidence-based benchmarks to guide future programming.