As the current federal government endeavours to be the first to act materially on the promise of child care for all, questions of quality, affordability, accessibility and inclusion will stand in line behind jurisdictional bargaining.

Executive Summary

On April 19, 2021, the federal government put its stake in the ground on child care. The 2021-22 federal budget committed $30 billion over five years, and $8.3 billion per year on top of existing funding starting in 2025-26 totaling $9.2 billion, with the ultimate goal of supporting a child care system that offers an average charge to parents of $10 a day. This commitment delivers on over 50 years of advocacy work across the country. However, many details still need to be worked out to realize a high-quality, affordable and accessible Canada-wide early learning child care system.

In partnership with YMCA Canada, the Public Policy Forum undertook a research project to examine how to achieve a child care system that centres on quality, affordability, accessibility and inclusion, while also addressing key policy trade-offs to attain this goal. Through this research, it became abundantly clear that two main issues remain at play: jurisdiction and quality. In order to achieve the promised system, two foundational questions need to be settled: how can the federal government best act as a partner in child care, and what is necessary for the operation of a high-quality child care system across the country?

Through roundtable discussions and interviews, this report is informed by more than 200 experts, advocates and practitioners.

From Investment to Action: : Building a Canada-wide Child Care System
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Summary of Recommendations

  • Develop and fund a comprehensive, national early learning and child care workforce strategy informed by labour force trends.
  • Ensure long-term predictability, stability and accountability of expanded funding to the provinces.
  • Extend direct wage support to ensure high-quality child care agencies withstand financial challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 and to maintain highly trained staff and quality spaces over the next 18 months.
  • Support the expansion and increased capacity of in-person and online early childhood education college programs across Canada to effectively build up the workforce in early learning and child care, and ensure curriculum continues to be reflective of the demands and realities of the role.
  • Harmonize tax-based support with the $10-a-day vision as it rolls out to ensure those with persisting access issues receive necessary support.


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