Nunavut signs on to federal $10-per-day child care program

Ottawa will give the territory $66 million over 5 years

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok and Education Minister Pamela Gross stand inside the lobby of the legislative assembly Monday morning, shortly after announcing the territory’s child care deal with the federal government. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Government of Nunavut has signed a five-year, $66-million deal with the federal government to support affordable child care in the territory.

Nunavut is the second-last jurisdiction to sign on to Ottawa’s $10-per-day child care program. Ontario has yet to reach an agreement with the federal government to take part in the subsidy program Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created last year.

The money Trudeau announced Monday will go towards opening more child care spots, increasing the wages of child care workers and lowering fees. By March 2024, the cost of licensed child care spots will be reduced to $10 per day.

The federal government says that fees will drop by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022. It estimates a family in Iqaluit would save $14,000 on child care fees as a result.

“This is something that’s obviously a historic moment for us,” said Premier P.J. Akeeagok during a joint press conference Monday morning.

Questions remain about how the territory will create the spaces and get the workforce to operate those spaces.

The GN committed to creating 238 child care spots by March 2026. There are currently about 1,000 spots in the territory.

Education Minister Pamela Gross said the government, when developing new buildings, will try to include daycare spaces. She pointed to how the new school being built in Taloyoak will have space for a daycare.

“Having space that integrates daycare is a very big priority,” Gross said.

She’s also encouraging Nunavummiut who want to start a daycare to contact the Education Department to help get them registered and fit under the agreement.

Non-licensed daycares will have to work with the department to become licensed to be involved under the agreement.

Gross said this agreement will also help the GN provide training directly to daycares and day homes. The training will include learning Inuktut, trauma-informed practices and about working with foster children.

Close to $16 million will go towards increasing wages for early childhood educators, to help grow and retain staff, said Karina Gould, the federal minister of families, children and social development.

“We can’t create more spaces if you don’t have the workforce,” Gould said in an interview.

To meet the terms of the agreement, the Nunavut government will need to track how child care is being provided in the territory to help build on that system.

This is one of the initiatives the GN must take on to meet the terms of the agreement, Gould said, including collecting data and research on how child care is currently operated in the territory and building on that system.

“We are committed and continuing to work together to identify opportunities for further growth because we recognize that we need to grow the system,” Gould said.

Before Monday, Ontario and Nunavut were the last holdouts of the territories and provinces in this deal. Gould said in Nunavut’s case, this is because of the territorial election and the consultation process with the regional Inuit organizations.

She said the two governments had an agreement in principle before Christmas.

Correction: This story has been edited to correctly reflect how many daycare spots the GN agreed to put into place within five years.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by tuktuborel on

    Nice for Iqaluit.

    But will it help anyone else before the funding runs out. I hope it does but time will tell.

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  2. Posted by HR issue on

    Doesn’t matter what the cost is. If we keep paying daycare staff the same as northmart cashiers and expect them to do nearly the work of teachers, then we’re always going to have the same problem.

    The parents of daycare aged kids (and there’s a lot of them) are getting burnt out trying to balance lack of full time daycare and work obligations. It’s a drain on the whole system.

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    • Posted by More like staffing issue on

      Daycares in Nunavut will literally hire anyone off the street with a clean vulnerable records check. To no surprise, most staff don’t bother showing up after payday, which means daycare closed and GN staff stay at home with their kids. Down south usually daycare staff have a background in Early Childhood Education. Might be time for GN to take over daycare operation instead of letting Hamlets do it and continue failing.

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  3. Posted by Melissa on

    $10 daycare by 2024. That is ridiculous that it will take 2 years for parents to see the benefit. Government red tape. No reason it should take that long!

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    • Posted by Auslander on

      From the article:

      “The federal government says that fees will drop by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022”

    • Posted by Always Complain on

      You must be a specialist in changing a complete system to a new setup. I guess people will never happy about any improvements. Step up …..

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  4. Posted by Toonik’s Grandfather on

    I have a FUNNY feeling about this new NU Gov’t.

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    • Posted by Do Explain Please on

      Interesting…how so?

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  5. Posted by Education Opportunities Needed on

    Having daycare space is obviously a necessity, it is also time for Nunavut Arctic College to step up and begin offering Early Childhood Education training to daycare staff in our communities (and whomever else wants it).

    As it stands I see no training opportunities for ECE listed on their 2021-2022 calendar.

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    • Posted by Please Clarify on

      Do want a training opportunity for yourself, so you can become a hild care worker? Or do you want someone to be trained to look after your kids?

      Please clarify.

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      • Posted by Education Opportunities Needed on

        I want to see opportunities for child care workers in Nunavut to become trained so they can make a more secure living and so that our children will be given a stronger start in life than they might otherwise get without well trained care workers. This is especially true in terms of their education. This has nothing to do with me and my kids will be long finished daycare by that point.

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        • Posted by Training needed on

          Training is needed and Arctic College could be doing more in helping to build capacity in Nunavut, daycares need trained staff and the GN needs to start working to make this happen.

    • Posted by MacMillan on

      Quana for the question: does everyone remember when the NTA actually did something and it was to complain about the shelfing of the NTEP review. Surely, Nunavut grown and Nunavut-educated teachers will be the answers to the schooling issues. Communities that have had the “pleasure” of running these programs are now the most dysfunctional schools in the territory. Resigning of principals, terrible staff morale, and unbelievable rates of truancy. If ECE is done under the same auspices (the GN and NU)… expect more of the same except the employees will now be more skilled at acquiring leave and better equipped to join another GN Dept where they can fade into obscurity while working from home.

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