Nunavummiut families are getting childcare for $10 a day much earlier than expected.
Starting Dec. 1, Nunavut will be the first jurisdiction to earn $10 a day for accredited childcare centers under a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system, according to a joint press release from the federal and territorial governments.
Pamela Gross, Nunavut’s education minister, said her ministry has been working with the federal government over the next five years on the agreement, worth $66.1 million. The press release said families could save up to $55 per day for each child in care, compared to current rates.
“For families, that means big savings for people in our territory,” Gross said in an interview with UKTN News.
Nunavut signed the Canadian government’s childcare agreement in January.
The initial plan announced at the time was to create $10 a day of childcare by March 2024, two years ahead of the federal goal. Gross said a deal has been worked out to launch the program this year, rather than the original plan to cut costs by about half by the end of the calendar year.
“We are just so excited and happy that we can accelerate to $10 a day and bypass the 50 percent discount that we anticipated with the department and go straight to a better option,” she said. .
Gross said creating new daycare centers in the coming years is also on the to-do list within the deal to help ease the high demand for childcare. She said the department has already helped create 30 new spaces across the area, and the “overall goal” is to get to 238 new spaces.
“This will be a great addition to supporting childcare in Nunavut and having more places available for Nunavummiut. Having their child or children attend a nursery or day care center will play an important role in the life of the family Gross said.
She said one of the biggest challenges when it comes to expanding childcare is the infrastructure, but said, “With partnerships with the Inuit organizations and with the federal government, I know this will really help create those spaces. “
This could mean brand new facilities or modify existing ones, she said.
The agreement signed in January also declares a commitment to Inuit-specific Indigenous early learning and childcare services. Funding for these services is conducted in partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and other regional Inuit associations of Nunavut.
Wage increase, standardization for workers could come
Gross said the department is working on a review of wages for childcare providers and employees, and plans to make an announcement on that next year. The goal is to offer wages that reflect education and years of experience and improve hiring, and there may also be incentives for certification.
“We’re looking forward to working on that piece. And I know the department is doing their best to figure out where people are on payroll, and working to standardize it is something we’re looking forward to doing in the coming years to do,” she said.
“I think the pay increase will really add to the variation in salaries between day care centers and help retain and hire more people.”
Gross did not say how much wages could rise. However, the press release says that Nunavut proposes to use more than 20 percent of the financing in the agreement “to support their workforce through higher wages”.
When it comes to licensed facilities, Gross said the department is working with some of the day-home providers to make sure they get licensed. She said that if a daycare is not licensed, it is not eligible for the $10 a day program.
In a written statement in the release, Karina Gould, federal minister of the family, children and social development, called the implementation of $10 a day childcare a “great achievement.”
“This achievement,” said Gould, “will make a real difference to families as parents across the area will see hundreds of dollars in savings each month.”