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Feds announce more money for child care in NWT

Education, Culture and Employment Minister Caitlin Cleveland, left, NWT MP Michael McLeod and Veterans Affairs Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor were at Somba K'e Park on May 14 for a new funding announcement from the federal government.

The JumpStart playground at Somba K'e Park was the site for another visit by a federal minister and the announcement of more promised money.

NWT MP Michael McLeod, Veterans Affairs Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor (who made the announcement on behalf of the federal government) and Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Minister Caitlin Cleveland were on hand as Petitpas Taylor said the Liberals were going to spend $10.6 million over four years to help build more child care spaces across the NWT. $7.8 million of that cash is specifically for the 2025–2026 time frame.

The money comes through the Government of Canada’s $625‑million Early Learning and Child Care Infrastructure Fund with the goal of adding 300 new child care spaces in the NWT by March 2026.

"Every generation deserves a fair chance to succeed, but for too many Canadians, from millennials and Gen Z, hard work isn't paying off," said Petitpas Taylor. "This isn't fair for parents, especially moms who shouldn't have to make the difficult decision between a career or starting a family."

There's also the challenge of the $10-a-day national child care program, something all provinces and territories are either offering or are on track to offer. It means some daycare providers will have to reduce their prices in order to qualify for support under the program.

But cutting childcare fees though can also mean taking away money from the people running a daycare centre. When asked what feedback they've been hearing about this from childcare operations, Cleveland said it's been a challenge.

"We're trying to make a lot of changes over a short period of time, but ultimately people want to be able to create a sector that's sustainable and affordable for families," she said.

Those challenges, according to Cleveland are wide in range.

"Everything from understanding how these changes are rolling out and how everybody can work together," she added, adding that addressing inflation is another issue. "There have been a lot of changes both in our society and in the cost of living across the country, as well as changes to how we're operating day homes in the territory."

As for future solutions, Cleveland said they're already working on them already such as fee increases.

"The department has put in ways people can increase their fees as they go forward. Even as April 1 rolled over there were some opportunities for people to address the discrepancies between what different day homes or day care centres were charging," she said.

Licensed programs can increase their fees by two to six per cent, depending on the total fee rates charged by that program for infant and preschool spaces and by a flat rate of $10 per month for out-of-school, according to the GNWT.

Licensed early learning and child care programs must notify ECE at least two weeks in advance before increasing their fees too. 

Currently, there are 107 licensed childcare providers in the NWT, said Cleveland.

The federal budget also contains a $1‑billion child care expansion loan program to help child care providers build more spaces and renovate their existing child care centres.

About the Author: Devon Tredinnick

Devon Tredinnick is a reporter for NNSL Media. Originally from Ottawa, he's also a recent journalism graduate from Carleton University.
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