Supporting newcomers, culturally responsive practice and diverse child care

    Resources for making child care a welcoming and supportive place for people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

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    CCCF Webinar: Canada’s ELCC Sector and COVID – 19 — What’s Happening? How do We Move Forward?

    Across Canada, provincial/territorial government’s COVID-19 actions and directions specific to the ELCC sector have been diverse. From public messaging to different approaches to group sizes to programs/providers opening or closing to the roles of the ELCC workforce in providing Essential Service Worker (ESW) care, it has been a patchwork of responses.

    Link to watch the webinar, originally broadcast on Thursday, April 16, 2020

    Plan to sustain Canada’s Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) through the COVID-19 pandemic

    This plan was developed by Canada’s three national early childhood education and child care organizations: Canadian Child Care Federation, Child Care Now (Canada’s child care advocacy association), and Childcare Resource and Research Unit.

    Canada’s fragile early learning and child care sector will not survive the COVID-19 crisis without sector-specific aide that is provided in a coordinated way by all levels of government. Unlike primary and secondary education, which is publicly funded and publicly delivered, child care in Canada is fragile because it is market-based, fragmented and under-funded. Licensed/regulated services are provided by self-governing, not-for-profit organizations, whose volunteer boards hold legal responsibility, as well as by a smaller number of commercial operators. Most service providers receive minimal public funding and are dependent on revenues from parent fees. The very low compensation paid to the predominantly female workforce has created a crisis in recruitment and retention of qualified early childhood educators and other staff.

    Since the onset of the pandemic, almost all provinces/territories have ordered licensed child care centres to be temporarily closed. In some provinces/territories a limited number were kept open or have been re-opened to provide emergency child care services for essential service workers. Most licensed/regulated home-based child care providers have been either ordered to close or have voluntarily closed because of public health and safety concerns, or because too many parents have withdrawn their children from programs.

    Provincial and territorial governments have taken different and changing approaches to the continuation or cessation of child care services, and to the continuation or cessation of public funding during the pandemic. The constantly changing public policy and operational landscape, combined with the sudden and dramatic drop in parental fee revenue, has put child care organizations, especially the volunteer boards of directors of not-for-profit organizations, in an impossible position. To mitigate risk, some have laid off their employees and shuttered their premises. For many, the shutdown will likely be permanent because they have no reserves to pay ongoing operating costs such as rent or mortgage payments during the pandemic. Other providers, who have been able to struggle through the first few weeks, could face permanent closure as the pandemic continues. There is danger that the sector could experience the termination of thousands of ELCC employees who will not come back to work in the low-wage sector once other employment opportunities open up again. All of this will put Canada’s economic recovery in jeopardy: parents or guardians of young children will not have access to the child care services they need to return to work once it is safe to do so.

    What Canada needs is a plan specifically designed to sustain Canada’s early learning and child care sector through the pandemic. If it collapses, the federal government’s promise to turn the fragile patchwork of services into a robust, fully effective comprehensive high-quality system will be that much more difficult.

    Under the Plan set out below, federal funding will cover 75 per cent of the costs of sustaining the ELCC sector. The proposed funding formula, which requires the provinces and territories to contribute 25 per cent to receive federal funding, will ensure a common framework for sustaining the sector across the country. The plan would replace the other COVID-19 federal support programs that may be available to some but not all ELCC providers: for example, the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Unlike the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the ELCC Plan will ensure the continued full employment of ELCC employees through the pandemic and therefore reduce the numbers who would otherwise make claims under the Employment Insurance program and/or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or social assistance programs. Further, the Plan will provide fee relief to parents— many of whom are being asked to continue to pay fees even if services are closed– during this very difficult time. As well, the cost of the Plan for the federal government can be partly absorbed by the federal budget allocation for ELCC for 2020-21.

    Fundamental Principles and Objectives

    • Stabilization and survival of the ELCC sector is a joint federal/provincial/territorial responsibility;
    • The objective of the Plan is to prevent permanent shuttering of licenced/regulated ELCC programs and the permanent loss of qualified staff to ensure services are in place to support Canada’s economic recovery when we move out of the pandemic period;
    • The Plan respects the provinces’ and territories’ authority and jurisdiction with respect to the delivery of ELCC services while encouraging equitable distribution of federal funds to sustain the sector.

    Plan Components

    • Each licensed/regulated ELCC program will continue to receive its pre-COVID levels of public funding including fee subsidies, operating grants, wage enhancements, and any other public funding or public in-kind contributions in lieu of funding;
    • Each licensed/regulated program that receives public funding under the Plan will be required to cease collecting parent fees of any kind from parents who are unable to access services, including fees to hold a space in the program during the pandemic;
    • Each licensed/regulated ELCC program will receive additional public funding to compensate for any reductions in revenue from parental fees (excluding waitlist fees that programs may collect from parents or other ancillary program fees such as lunch fees, supply fees, music fees);
    • Each program that receives public funding under the Plan will be required to: o keep its employees on its payroll and continue to pay wages, applicable pension contributions and insured benefits;
      • agree to reopen once the province/territory where it is located determines that it is safe to do so;
      • allow parents to re-enrol their children once their program is reopened;
      • forego any other COVID-19 related public funding or support from any level of government
    • Any program that fails to meet the requirements of the plan, or that fails to use the public funds received under this Plan as intended, will be required to pay back the funds received. Funding the Implementation of the Plan
    • Provincial/territorial governments will be responsible for determining the cost of implementing the Plan in their respective provinces/territories.
    • The federal government will transfer to each province/territory that agrees to implement the Plan an amount equivalent to 75 per cent of the cost of implementation.

    Submitted to the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, April 14, 2020

    Urgent Open Letter to Canada’s P/T Ministers – Coordinated Early Learning and Child Care Planning on COVID-19

    The CCCF with the support of its pan-Canadian affiliates have sent an open letter to all Ministers–federal, provincial and territorial–responsible for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) calling for coordinated action and initiatives between governments specific to ELCC.

    Open Letter to PT Ministers March 25, 2020

    CCCF’s Essential ECEs

    Supporting Canada’s ELCC sector, download a copy of the CCCF’s Essential ECEs image for printing and social media here.

    Open Letter to Canada’s Premiers — Early Learning and Child Care Planning COVID-19

    The Canadian Child Care Federation is calling on all provincial and territorial governments across Canada to take immediate action to protect and mitigate the possible effects of COVID-19 for all children, Canada’s ELCC workforce and families.

    Open Letter to Canada’s Premiers

    March 16, 2020

    Open Letter to Canada’s Premiers — Early Learning and Child Care Planning COVID-19:

    Most of your governments have or will be announcing COVID-19 plans and strategies to minimize and mitigate risk and transmission specific to children in schools. Outside of Quebec, PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta is the absence of plans specific to the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) sector. It is a serious omission as the safety and security of all children and the Early Childhood Educators (ECE’s) who care for them in intimate, close contact each and every day, as well as their families are just as worthy of fulsome COVID-19 mitigation and planning.

    Public health decisions affecting children must include all children — not just those that are enrolled in the public-school system. Understanding that ELCC programs are not a part of public system as schools are, they are still subject to provincial/territorial/municipal regulations, licensing and funding and as such, are within the purview of public safety plans.

    Closing schools and classrooms while still keeping child care programs open, no matter where they are situated, does not satisfy a holistic approach to children’s welfare. It also does not recognize the reality of spaces used, group sizes and the very act of caring for children. Further, it shows little regard to the women and men that work in Canada’s ELCC sector.

    Of serious concern and counter to what the Canadian Government’s social distance policy is trying to achieve, ELCC programs across Canada will feel tremendous pressure to remain open in order to meet the urgent child care demands of families. Without adequate financial supports in place to support their temporary closing and to ensure the continued economic security of the ELCC workforce, many programs will feel compelled to continue their operations, despite the immediate safety concerns.

    We urgently recommend that immediate federal, provincial and territorial funding be dedicated to support program closures, and aid the ECE workforce and families that are impacted—so that Canada’s ELCC sector can follow the immediate call for social distancing protocols.

    All children, ELCC programs and families deserve no less that your full planning consideration. The window to significantly alter the effect and impact of the COVID-19 virus is quickly closing—we need to fully act now, not when it is too late.


    Don Giesbrecht



    Cc: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Hon. Bill Morneau, Hon Maryam Monsef, Hon. Chrystia Freeland


    Child Care Fees in Canada 2019

    In Progress Child care fees in Canada 2019

    Via the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Child Care Resource and research Unit (CRRU)

    This study, the sixth in an annual series, provides a snapshot of the median child care fees parents pay in 37 cities across Canada for full-time licensed child care of infants, toddlers and preschool-age children. Fees were surveyed in October 2019. With the addition of nine new cities, for the first time this year’s survey provides child care fee data for locations in all provinces and territories.

    Though child care fees remain unaffordable across the country, policy initiatives clearly make a difference. Various levels of government have attempted different child care fee interventions, some of which have been more successful than others. Yet by and large, these initiatives do not achieve the goal of providing access to sustained, affordable and high quality child care for a substantial number of families.

    Le rapport en français est disponible içi. 

    Impacting Child Care in Canada

    Canada’s Federal Funding for Child Care

    Positive Impacts on Quality

    In 2017-2018 the Government of Canada made

    history, signing bilateral agreements on Early Leaning and Child Care (ELCC) with all provinces and territories. Of specific significance, signed in September 2018 was the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework. This agreement represents the Government of Canada’s and Indigenous peoples’ work to co-develop a transformative Indigenous framework that reflects the unique cultures, aspirations and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children across Canada.

    The Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF), along with its affiliates, were pleased to provide support to Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, in the first steps towards moving child care forward in Canada. Federal funding is supporting quality in child care in provinces and territories and has had an impact. The current agreements are a start in the government’s support of ELCC in Canada and increased funding and further policy development must be implemented so that Canada’s children, families and ELCC sector can better address the interrelated elements of high-quality child care.

    The CCCF is pleased to highlight some stories from across the country of how the bilateral agreements have positively impacted children and families in Canada’s child care sector.