Nunavut Joins National Child Care Program

(Iqaluit) Nunavut has become the latest provincial or territorial government to sign on to Ottawa’s national $10-a-day child care program — only Ontario still has no agreement.

Posted at 2:17 p.m.

Emma Tranter
The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday a $66 million, five-year deal with Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok, who was on a video conference call from a daycare center in Iqaluit.

Akeeagok said Monday that by the end of the year, parents in Nunavut will see their child care fees cut in half, and that fees will reach the target of $10 a day by March 2024. .

Trudeau said the estimated savings for Iqaluit families would be about $14,000 a year.

This new agreement is part of the Liberal promise to spend $30 billion over five years to deliver a national child care program and to reduce fees to $10 a day within five years across the country.

Child care has long been a major social issue in Nunavut. This northern territory must deal with waiting lists of several years and staff shortages in daycare services.

Nunavut Education Minister Pamela Gross said up to 25 per cent of the federal contribution would go towards raising the salaries of child care workers.

The new agreement also applies to child care centers licensed by the Government of Nunavut, but many of the territory’s existing child care centers are private and family-based. Minister Gross said the Government of Nunavut would work with “anyone who wants to establish day care.”

Karina Gould, federal minister of families, children and social development, said Ottawa will also work to add more child care spaces for children in Nunavut.

Premier Akeeagok said many communities in Nunavut, like his home community of Grise Fiord, don’t even have child care. He would now like all 25 communities in Nunavut to have child care.

With this agreement between Ottawa and Nunavut, the Ontario government becomes the only one not to have signed up to the national child care program. Trudeau said Ottawa had been ready to sign for “many, many months now” and was still optimistic that a deal could be reached.

Since Quebec had already set up its own network of reduced-contribution educational childcare services in the 1990s, it did not join the federal program, but received full financial compensation from Ottawa: nearly $6 billion out of five years.

This dispatch was produced with financial assistance from the Facebook Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.

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