Province announces 601 new child care spaces

(File photo/Jayda Taylor)

On Monday the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan announced that 601 new regulated child care centre spaces have been allocated in 20 communities across the province, including Prince Albert.

The province touted the move as the first step toward increasing the number of regulated child care spaces by 6,000 in 2021-2022 and by 28,000 over the next five years.

Funding for these spaces is being provided through the Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement.
“We know that access to childcare can be more difficult in some communities,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a press release.

“By providing child care spaces regardless of where people live, our government is ensuring Saskatchewan families can have access to affordable, high quality early learning and child care should they choose to use these services.”

“Growing quality spaces is a critical part of our Canada-wide early learning and child care system,” said Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould.

“That is why we are working with the Government of Saskatchewan to help ensure that children and families across the province have access to the high-quality, affordable, and inclusive early learning and child care they need to succeed.”

The spaces are being allocated in both rural and urban locations across the province. Aside from Prince Albert, the government allotted spaces in Borden, Central Butte, Edenwold, Foam Lake, Hepburn, Humboldt, Kindersley, Kyle, Lucky Lake, Middle Lake, Mossbank, North Battleford, Odessa, Raymore, Regina, Rosetown, Saskatoon, Stockholm and Vicount.​

“Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child states all children have the right to education – and we know education starts at birth,” Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association (SECA) Executive Director Georgia Lavallee said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to grant access to inclusive and high quality Early Learning and Child Care to all children located in rural and urban communities. Along with the need for early learning and child care spaces in our province we also need a strong, well-educated workforce of Early Childhood Educators to support these spaces.”​

In their press release, the Government of Saskatchewan said they prioritized communities where there is both a high need for child care and a higher level of vulnerability. They also prioritized areas with organizations that are ready to move forward with centre development. Organizations will receive start-up grants and enhanced space development funding to support the creation of child care centre spaces.

This news comes following the Government of Canada’s transformative investment to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system in partnership with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners. This includes a historic federal investment of close to $1.1 billion in child care for Saskatchewan. The goal is to bring fees for regulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years. By the end of 2022, the Government of Canada is aiming to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent to make it more affordable for families.​

Over 1,900 child care centre spaces have been allocated across Saskatchewan since the signing of the first Federal ELCC Agreement in March 2018. With the addition of these spaces, the province will have allocated funding for 7,771 new spaces since 2007 – a nearly 84 per cent increase.