Living wage for child-care workers among top priorities, says NTI president

New permanent funding for child care and early learning announced in federal budget

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, who is pictured here cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening of Iqaluit’s new daycare centre in 2019, met with Tundra Buddies Daycare Society last week to discuss new funding announced in Budget 2021. This file photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic began. (File photo)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Proper buildings, a living wage for workers and more training opportunities are the three biggest needs when it comes to child care and early childhood education in Nunavut, according to Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

“We want parents to have access to programs that are rooted in Inuit knowledge, culture and language … that’s crucially important,” she said to Nunatsiaq News, reacting to the federal government’s recent budget.

In that budget, the government announced new permanent funding for child care and early education across the country, which includes $30 billion over the next five years.

“Many of the current employees across our territory don’t make a living wage … when they play such a crucial role in making sure our young children are being taken care of and learning things in a healthy way,” said Kotierk.

In terms of training, she said education on how to support children with disabilities is an area in need of improvement, as well as more training for administrative staff “so they have the skills and feel supported to continue on with those really important jobs.”

Kotierk said money for infrastructure is important too, because many communities don’t have daycares at all, and others need renovations or to be expanded.

On top of the $30 billion for child care, $2.5 billion was allocated to Indigenous-led programs. 

Some of that funding is allocated specifically to Inuit, but the budget does not say how much will go to Nunavut or Inuit programming.

Still, Kotierk said she is confident the territory will get the money it needs.

“I’m not worried about it because I know there’s been a significant amount earmarked,” she said.

But, she recently discussed next steps and the need for specifics with Dan Vandal, the minister of Northern Affairs, she said.

“With the budget currently, there’s no clarity,” said Kotierk.

“It will be important for us to determine what [the funding] means for Inuit … what we can do and what other areas we need to continue to advocate for.”

Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said it is an advantage for specific amounts not to be set in stone because it keeps the funding flexible.

“I think the beauty of this plan is it will be tailored to the reality of the region,” she said in an interview, adding that conversations about specifics will happen with the Government of Nunavut.

The minister met virtually with staff at Tundra Buddies Daycare Society on April 21 to discuss the new funding announced in the budget, and also said she heard concerns about unliveable wages.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Priscilla on

    I’ve just completed a 2 year ECE program with Algonquin College. Working in the ECE field isn’t just child minding as many may think. It involves having a clean CRC/VSC, First Aid/CPR, Health and Safety and the comprehensive training in ECE.
    I’ve begun to look for work back home, but housing is the issue of course.

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  2. Posted by Sharpshooter Inuk on

    I can think of 10 things that needs NTI attention before child care workers.

    1. Housing
    2. Mental Health
    3. addiction
    4. On the land hunting training
    5. Traditional sewing training
    6. Naming projects (hunting equipment names/ land names / animal parts)
    7. Celestial navigation / wind direction navigation/ snow navigation
    8. making hunting/tools equipment training
    9. Traditional Inuit child upbringing training
    10. Healthy foods cooking

    Instead the priority of our Inuit Organization in Nunavut is……..

    Daycare living wage!
    Way to go Inuit Org., next time, we’ll get it next time.

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    • Posted by Excuse me?!? on

      Excuse me?!? How are daycares not a priority?!? What happen to “children are our future”?
      May I add that not enough emphasis has been placed on the women who are actually doing this very hard work. They provide an essential service and allow other women to access the workplace, get out of poverty, get out of unhealthy relationships, get housing…. See where I am going with this? Your top 3 prorities would be adressed with a decent daycare stucture and adequate staff retention.

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    • Posted by Free on

      This is also in the context of the new federal budget – around what was promised in it… sure in the broader context what you’re speaking about are higher priorities, but around this topic of what was in the budget about childcare, these seem like a good subset

  3. Posted by ….. on

    Birth control measures and education should be at the forefront. It would solve so many issues.

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