Nunavut has become the latest jurisdiction to sign onto the federal government’s $10-a-day child-care program.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the deal of $66-million over five years Monday with Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok joining virtually from a daycare in Iqaluit.
“This funding will bolster Nunavut’s sector and provide a significant investment in our children and our families,” Akeeagok said.
Trudeau said the deal means Nunavut’s daycare fees will be cut in half by the end of this year and will be $10 a day by March 2024. He said the estimated savings for families in Iqaluit will be about $14,000 a year.
The deal is part of the Liberal government’s promise to spend $30 billion over five years to realize a national child-care program and cut fees to $10 a day over five years.
Child care has been a long-standing issue in Nunavut. There are years-long wait lists and staff shortages across the territory.
Nunavut Education Minister Pamela Gross said up to 25 per cent of the federal money will go toward increasing wages for early child-care workers.
The new deal also applies to daycare facilities licensed by the Nunavut government, but many of the territory’s existing daycares are private and home-based.
Gross said the Nunavut government will work with “anyone who wants to establish a day home.”
Karina Gould, the federal minister for families, children and social development, said Ottawa will work to add more care spaces for children in Nunavut.
“One of the next steps and further areas of work between the Government of Canada and Government of Nunavut is to identify where those growth opportunities are,” Gould said.
Akeeagok said many communities in Nunavut, like his home community of Grise Fiord, don’t have child-care facilities.
“Unfortunately, many of our communities are still lacking in child-care infrastructure,” Akeeagok said.
He wants to see a daycare in all of Nunavut’s 25 communities, he said.
With Nunavut on board, Ontario is the only jurisdiction not to sign on to the program.
Trudeau said Ottawa has been ready to sign a deal with Ontario for “many, many months now” and is still optimistic an agreement can be reached.
“We’re all just waiting on the government of Ontario.”
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship
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