Agreement improves access and child-care costs for families

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The governments of Canada and British Columbia are making significant investments in early learning and child-care systems to improve children’s continuous development and support them in reaching their full potential.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, on behalf of Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos announced an early learning and child-care bilateral agreement with Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development for British Columbia, and Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care.

The agreement allocates $153 million, over three years, to:

  • Create 1,370 new infant/toddler child-care spaces through capital grants;
  • Provide operational funding to care providers to administer low-cost infant/toddler spaces and reduce parent fees for at least 1,786 children;
  • Apply new streams of bursaries and grants to recruit and retain early childhood educators, and support up to 4,000 current and future educators in obtaining or upgrading their Early Childhood Educator certification;
  • Direct new funds into the existing systems to expand culturally based Indigenous child care, which will create on- and off-reserve programming, 390 new spaces, and benefit approximately 590 families; and
  • Enhance inclusive programs for approximately 7,278 children with special needs.

This announcement follows a historic agreement made on June 12, 2017, by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for early learning and child care on a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. The framework sets the foundation for governments to work towards a shared, long-term vision where all children across Canada can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and child care.

Taking care of children today will grow and strengthen the middle class for years to come. The bilateral agreement is supported by long-term Government of Canada investments in early learning and child care announced in budgets 2016 and 2017, totaling $7.5 billion over 11 years, and is another step to helping ensure that British Columbia’s children get the best start in life.

The framework also complements the three-year, more than $1-billion investment the Province is making in child care under Budget 2018, as part of its commitment to implementing a universal child-care system that provides access to affordable, quality child care for any B.C. family who wants or needs it.


Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development –

“Across Canada, raising a family can be costly. That is no different in British Columbia. Our government is committed to helping alleviate that burden on Canadian families. The early learning and child-care bilateral agreement signed today will further enable collaborative effort to help parents make ends meet and give all children a fair and equal chance to succeed.”

Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change –

“Today’s agreement between Canada and British Columbia is a big step towards ensuring that our children get the best start in life and in delivering better child care for British Columbia families.”

Premier John Horgan –

“We are committed to making life more affordable for B.C. families. We know if we’re to deliver on this commitment, we need strong backing from our federal partners. This funding offers much-needed support as we begin to implement universal child care in B.C.”

Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy –

“Introducing universal child care is going to be one of the most significant policy changes in B.C. history. Improving the system is going to take significant resources and require partnerships, like this one with the federal government, in order to be successful. The early years play a key role in a child’s development, and this federal investment will allow us to better support children, parents and those who work in early childhood education, so that B.C. families can access high-quality care, wherever they are in the province.”

Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen – 

“The B.C. government believes that every parent deserves to be able to access quality and affordable care for their child. Families throughout the province will benefit from our partnership with the federal government. This funding, along with our own investments in child care, will allow us to make child care more accessible for low-income families and provide focused funding in areas of need, including more Indigenous and inclusive child-care spaces.”

Quick Facts:

  • Federal budgets 2016 and 2017 proposed to invest $7.5 billion over 11 years, starting in 2017-18, to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country, particularly for families in need. Of this investment:
    • $95 million will go towards closing data gaps to better understand child-care challenges and needs and to track progress;
    • $100 million will go towards early learning and child-care innovation; and
    • A portion will be dedicated to strengthening culturally appropriate early learning and child care for Indigenous children.
  • The federal government is working with each province and territory to enter into three-year bilateral agreements that will address the early learning and child-care needs unique to its jurisdiction and funding allocation. Bilateral agreements with eight other provinces and territories have been announced: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.
  • Through the bilateral agreements, the Government of Canada will provide provinces and territories with $1.2 billion over the next three years for early learning and child-care programs. Governments will report annually on the progress made in relation to the framework and their bilateral agreements.
  • In addition, a separate Indigenous Framework on Early Learning and Child Care is being co-developed with Indigenous partners to reflect the unique cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families.
  • The British Columbia action plan identifies key priority areas for investment, over three years, aligning with the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. They are:
    • Addressing the shortage of licensed child-care spaces
    • Reducing the cost of child care for parents
    • Quality enhancements to licensed child-care programs
    • Extra support and services for underserved communities
    • Expanding inclusive, alternative care options for children with special needs

Learn More:

To read the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, visit:

To read more about the Province’s investments in child care, visit:

For more information about child care in B.C., visit:

BACKGROUNDER: Canada-B.C. early learning and child-care agreement