B.C. is First Province/Territory to Sign a New Bilateral ELCC Agreement with Federal Government

In the first installment in HELP’s Child Care Blog series last April, Dr. Barry Forer, HELP Research Associate and member of the Federal Expert Panel on Early Learning and Child Care Data and Research, provided an overview of the Government of Canada announcement of their plans for, and investment in, a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System (http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/blog/2021/may/28/focus/).

In this second installment, Dr. Forer outlines the details of the new Bilateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreement that was signed earlier this summer between the Province of British Columbia and the Federal Government.

B.C. is First Province/Territory to Sign a New Bilateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Federal Government.

Background: Federal Budget Spring 2021

The Government of Canada is making a permanent commitment to Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC), investing $30 billion over the next five years, with $9.2 billion per year after that. The cost of child care to parents will be reduced by 50% by the end of 2022, and down to an average of $10 per day in five years’ time. The plan includes growing both the number of spaces (primarily not-for-profit), and the number of trained early childhood educators (with increased remuneration and professional development opportunities). A new National Advisory Council will be created for expert advice and consultation. Finally, federal early learning and child care legislation will be introduced in fall 2021, to legally commit Canada to a child care system.

BC is the First Province/Territory to Sign a New Bilateral ELCC Agreement

This new bilateral agreement was announced on July 8, 2021. British Columbia’s commitments include the following:

  • Reducing average parent fees for children under 6 to $10 per day, in five years;
  • Reducing average parent fees for children under 6 to $21 per day by December 2022;
  • Increasing the number of $10 per day spaces, with the goal to increase to 12,500 spaces by December 2022;
  • Creating at least 30,000 new regulated spaces for children under 6 by 2025/26, and at least 40,000 new regulated spaces by 2027/28;
  • Prioritizing the public/non-profit sector for these new spaces over private/for-profit child care;
  • Developing a wage grid for Early Childhood Educators, and committing to its implementation;
  • Developing and implementing quality frameworks, standards, and tools;
  • Improving access for vulnerable children and those in diverse populations (e.g., low income, Indigenous, racialized, newcomers to Canada, language minority);
  • Developing a collaborative plan with First Nations and Métis Nation organizations for affordable, quality, accessible, culturally appropriate ELCC;
  • Establishing a provincial-federal Implementation Committee to monitor progress towards a Canada-wide system of ELCC; and  
  • Committing to enhanced data collection and reporting to assess the outcomes from the federal funding.

The Canada-B.C. agreement does not include any commitment about ELCC for school-age children. There is also nothing in writing yet about the mechanisms for reducing parent fees.

The new agreement runs until March 31, 2026. British Columbia’s share of the federal funding (based on the province’s share of children 0 to 12), works out to over $3.2 billion overall, rising from $349 million in the current fiscal year to $911 million in 2025/26.

The official details of the Canada-B.C. agreement can be found at: https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/oic/oic_cur/0426_2021.

As of the election call on August 15, 2021, seven other jurisdictions have also signed bilateral agreements with the Government of Canada: Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Child Care a Key Issue in the Upcoming Federal Election

With a federal election called for September 20, 2021, this momentum toward a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system is a critical election issue.  For more information about each party’s platform for child care, visit the Childcare Resource and Research Unit website: https://childcarecanada.org/resources/issue-files/federal-election-2021

For an up-to-date list of child care articles in the news, visit the Childcare Resource and Research Unit: https://childcarecanada.org/documents/child-care-news