N.W.T. and federal governments tout $2.4M earmarked for early education and childcare

·2 min read
R.J. Simpson, the N.W.T.’s minister of education, culture and employment said the money is being used to lower the cost of daily programs and to support and retain educators.  (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit)
R.J. Simpson, the N.W.T.’s minister of education, culture and employment said the money is being used to lower the cost of daily programs and to support and retain educators. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit)

All communities throughout the Northwest Territories are receiving a portion of the $2.4 million allocated for early learning and child care in the current school year, the federal and territorial governments said Friday.

R.J. Simpson, the N.W.T.'s minister of education, culture and employment, described the announcement as a "recommitment" to the sector for 2020-2021. The money is already outlined in a bilateral agreement between both levels of government.

Simpson did not have details about how the funding has been divided, but said it's being used to lower the cost of daily programs and to support and retain educators.

"Early education plays an important role in promoting the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of young children," he said. "We have a responsibility to contribute to the long term success of our youth."

Canada's Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen, said the federal government has worked hard to make sure parents don't have to decide between paying rent or buying groceries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, he said, there's still work to be done.

"Parents are worried about returning to work and sending their kids to school or daycare. Now, more than ever, parents need access to safe, affordable, accessible and high quality child care as we slowly and safely reopen our economy."

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said Friday that safe, high quality child care is important as the economy slowly reopens.
Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said Friday that safe, high quality child care is important as the economy slowly reopens. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Hussen said funding is being used for culturally appropriate and professional training opportunities that will increase access to quality child care in small communities.

The agreement also allows the government of the Northwest Territories to carry over funds that weren't used for early learning and childcare last year, said Simpson.

"There's times when we don't have as many children in care as we might budget for," he explained.

Hussen added that to have leftover funds is normal.

"Especially based on the year we've had," he said. "There's time when the child care sector was closed, and there were disruptions to the system."

In a media statement, both governments said Friday's funding brings the Canada-Northwest Territories Bilateral Agreement's investment into early learning and child care up to $9.7 million since 2017.