On June 12, 2017, the Federal government signed the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework with all of the provinces, excluding Quebec. Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Monday, “I am very proud that we have now arrived to a successful agreement to help Canadian children and families have access to affordable, high-quality, flexible and fully inclusive child care.”
The framework aims to foster “fully inclusive” early education and child care services while supporting the most vulnerable populations, including low-income families, Indigenous peoples, single parents, children with disabilities, and families living in under-served communities. The Multilateral Framework follows the federal government’s 2017 budget, which made a commitment to invest $7.5 billion in child care and early learning over the next 11 years with a focus on affordability, high quality, flexibility, accessibility, and inclusivity. The federal budget committed to allocating $500 million this fiscal year and increasing to $870 million annually by 2026.
On June 6, 2017, The Ministry of Education released its Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework. This framework aims to transform the early years and child care system in order to “build a high quality, seamless, and more accessible early years and child care system.” This plan follows the government’s recent commitment to create 100,000 child care spaces for children aged 0-4 over the next five years.
This framework has the following seven action items:
Increasing Access: “Families will find it easier to access high-quality early years programs and licensed child care spaces in communities, homes, and school.”
Increased Affordability: “Child care will be more affordable for families.”
Early Years Workforce Strategy: “Families will continue to benefit from high-quality child care and early years programming delivered by engaged and knowledgeable educators.”
Defining Quality in the Early Years: “Children and families will continue to benefit from a shared view of the role of the child, family, and educator across early years settings.”
Promoting Inclusion in the Early Years: “Families will find it easier to navigate services and receive support for children with special needs.”
Outcomes and Measurement strategy: “Families will have increased confidence in how Ontario’s early years and child care system is working.”
Increasing Public Awareness: “Families will be able to easily access information about programs and services, including licensed child care and child and family programs.”
Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, and Indira Naidoo-Harris, Associate Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care, announced that Ontario is investing $1.6 billion to build 45,000 new licensed child care spaces. Although there is a focus on creating child care spaces within schools in 2017, there is a plan to expand to other public spaces and communities across the province within the next five years.
In addition to these announcements, Minister Mitzie Hunter and Associate Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris shared that the province will launch an Affordability Strategy. This expert-led strategy will review the current funding approach and identify options that will further reduce the cost of child care.
In this announcement, the Ministry of Education stressed their commitment to solving some immediate issues, such as the need for more child care spaces, while at the same time developing longer-term transformational goals, such as the Workforce Strategy and the Outcomes and Measurement Strategy.
The public announcement focused primarily on licensed child care spaces. However, in earlier discussions with the Minister’s Early Years & Child Care Advisory Committee, The Honourable Indira Naidoo-Harris and Shannon Fuller, Assistant Deputy Minister on Early Learning, stressed the Ministry of Education’s commitment to all parts of the early learning system, including Child and Family Centres.