Canada’s unions are welcoming today’s signing of a multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework by Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and his provincial and territorial counterparts.
The Framework sets out guiding principles and commits the federal government to funding over time, and will be accompanied by separate bilateral agreements for each of the provinces and territories.
“We are happy to see the federal government committing to building a system based on principles, to investing in regulated care, and to addressing the crisis in care for the most vulnerable families,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “We also need to ensure that the agreement commits to building a system that provides child care for all families who need it.”
Yussuff says unions have been encouraged by recent provincial commitments to providing universal care, and are disappointed it wasn’t emphasized in today’s agreement.
Despite recent cutbacks, Quebec’s system has long been an inspiration to others. Recent announcements in Alberta and Ontario demonstrate a willingness among provincial governments to work towards a universal system, and British Columbia’s government-in-waiting has committed to making $10-a-day child care a priority.
“We will continue to press to see universality as a component of bilateral agreements. The goal must be providing early learning and child care for all families who need it,” he added.
Yussuff said unions would also continue to work towards ensuring bilateral agreements contain clear commitments to public and not-for-profit delivery of child care.
“We must ensure all governments invest in public and not-for-profit care, because this is a key component of ensuring quality,” he said.
The multilateral framework sets out principles that must guide service delivery by provinces and territories. Those are affordability, accessibility, quality, flexibility, and inclusivity.
The Framework also stipulates that provinces and territories must:
Invest in regulated care for children under six;
Focus on the families most in need, including low-income, lone parent, Indigenous families, those living in underserved communities, working non-standard hours, or with children with varying abilities;
Ensure reporting and performance measurement; and
Ensure spending does not replace existing early learning and child care programs, but rather work to expand the system.
“Today’s signing is a step forward for families, women, and the economy. Unions are ready to work with governments to ensure we establish a truly universal, high quality, affordable, and inclusive system of child care across the country. That’s what families so desperately need,” said Yussuff.