Fees for licensed childcare in Nunavut will be cut in half, on average, by the end of this year, and by March 2024, childcare costs will be reduced to $10 on average, the federal and territorial governments announced jointly on Monday morning.

It’s estimated that for parents with children up to age six in in licensed childcare centres, the lower price structure will save a family in Iqaluit up to $14,000 per year in childcare fees.

There will also be 238 new childcare spaces in Nunavut among licensed not-for-profit and family-based childcare providers by March 2026.

The agreement will also bring higher wages for early childcare workers. That will be achieved through the creation of wage grid and the Government of Nunavut is proposing to invest up to 25 per cent of the $66 million in federal funding over five years to raise pay for childcare staff.

The new deal includes a commitment to continue to work with Inuit organizations to ensure that all children in the territory have access to Inuit-specific Indigenous early learning and childcare. There will be dedicated early learning and child care funding directed to Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the regional Inuit associations.

In addition to the federal funding, Nunavut currently invests nearly $4.3 million in early learning and childcare annually.

Improved childcare in the territory was one of Premier P.J. Akeeagok’s campaign goals.

“The investments that we make into early learning opportunities for our children today determine our future,” Akeeagok said of Monday’s announcement. “Safe, reliable, and affordable childcare will not only yield positive outcomes in our children’s development, but it will also help families make ends meet.”

Education Minister Pamela Gross added, “Better access to affordable, high-quality, and culturally relevant child care has the potential to greatly improve the lives of Nunavummiut. It means a solid foundation for our children, greater employment opportunities, increased income for families, and the creation of more Inuktut language resources for child care facilities. The investment and commitments made in today’s agreement will have positive, long-lasting effects, not just for our children and families, but for all of Nunavut.”

The governments of Canada and Nunavut will create an implementation committee that will monitor progress on childcare commitments in consultation with stakeholders.

Through previous investments in early learning and childcare since the pandemic, the Government of Canada helped to create over 1,000 childcare spaces in Nunavut.

The deal with Nunavut announced Monday is one of many with jurisdictions across the country. The Northwest Territories’ agreement was announced on Dec. 15. It will see the federal government and the GNWT will work together to create 300 new childcare spaces by 2026, with Ottawa kicking in $51 million over five years.

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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