MONCTON (GNB)The provincial government announced today that families with children aged five and under attending a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre will not pay more than 20 per cent of their income for child care.

“Your government is focused on growing the economy in a way that all New Brunswickers move forward together,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “With our multi-year economic growth plan, we are investing to ensure families can afford and access higher-quality child care. These investments will help grow our economy and strengthen middle class families.”

These subsidies will be available for families with annual gross incomes of over $37,500 on a sliding scale and will help make quality child care more affordable and accessible for even more New Brunswick families.

The provincial government has already announced free child care for families with an annual gross income under $37,500 who have children aged five and under attending a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre. Examples of how this will work are available online.

This financial support means that a family with one infant and one preschooler attending an early learning centre with a gross family income of $40,000 would receive a subsidy of $15,745 per year, while a family with one infant and two preschoolers with a gross family income of $80,000 would receive a subsidy of $11,300 per year. This is based on a daily fee of $39/day per infant space and $33/day per preschool space.

Financial support for the middle class and the free daycare program is for parents who are either working or attending school, with children aged five and under attending a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.

The average New Brunswick household’s gross annual income is $75,700. It is expected that a significant number of New Brunswick families will benefit from this additional financial support, said Gallant. About 71 percent of New Brunswick families have household incomes of less than $80,000.

The province is committing to invest $31 million to enhance the Daycare Assistance Program with the following components:

  • The legacy Daycare Assistance Program will continue to be available for families who do not have access to a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre and for school aged children up to the age of 12.
  • Free child care will be available for families with an annual gross income of $37,500 or less who have children aged five and under attending a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.
  • Subsidies will be available for parents making more than $37,500 on a sliding scale up to a cap of 20 per cent of gross annual income going towards the costs of child care for children 0-5 years old.
  • Investments of $3.5 million by the provincial government coupled with $4.5 million in federal funds in quality operational grants to designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres in exchange for the centres adhering to the low fee policy which establishes thresholds for parents’ fees. This will help to offset the impact of child care fees for families.

Families can also now access a subsidy calculator that will provide them with an estimate of the amount of child care financial support available to them.

“The Government of Canada believes that early learning and child care services should be affordable for all families,” said federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. “I am pleased that New Brunswick’s action plan is implementing mechanisms to assist parents in meeting the rising costs of raising a family.”

Petitpas Taylor spoke on behalf of federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

All of these financial supports will be available to eligible families across the province. The first designated anglophone and francophone centres will be located in Saint John and the Greater Edmundston area beginning in March. They will be implemented provincewide by March 1, 2019. Parents will be notified by their daycares once they are designated and can begin the process.

This daycare program is another way the government is helping working parents and parents attending university or college with child care costs.

Existing programs to help students continue their education include the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class. These offer non-repayable provincial bursaries to make post-secondary education more accessible.

“Today’s announcement perfectly fits into the mandate of the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick since it will allow middle-class-family parents to broaden their opportunities to improve their quality of life, whether to re-enter the workforce or pursue their post-secondary studies,” said Liane Roy, president and CEO of the college. “Parents often hesitate to take the plunge because the priority is first and foremost their children and their well-being. But, with relief for child care costs, in conjunction with the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class, parents will be able to send their children to a daycare facility and focus on their studies with peace of mind.”

Today’s announcement is part of a larger framework of child care investments and early learning initiatives related to:

Quality

  • Daycares in New Brunswick will be able to apply for a One-Time Quality Improvement Grant to increase the quality of both indoor and outdoor learning environments, including equipment and materials, for children aged five and under. The one-time grants will total $4.7 million over the next two years.
  • $7.5 million in annual Quality Grants will be provided to help the facilities deliver high-quality child care services and meet the criteria of becoming a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre. The funding equates to a daily funding enhancement of $2.50 per space per day for children aged two to five years old. All early learning centre operators will be required to develop a plan for continuous quality improvement.
  • New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will offer services to preschool children aged five and under through a voluntary application process. Daycares are not required to be part of this program. Those that choose to do so will work in collaboration with the government with the aim of offering equitable and affordable access to high-quality early learning and child care services by removing barriers linked to family income, children’s abilities and needs, language and minority settings.
  • The government is investing $28 million, in addition to the multi-year bilateral funding, to support wage increases for early childhood educators. The funding will be rolled out over four years beginning in 2019-20 and raise wages from $16 an hour to $19 an hour for trained early childhood educators by 2022-23. 
  • Creating Centres of Excellence in Preschool Education as part of designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres that offers services to preschool children aged five and under. There will be one centre of excellence for each school district.
  • Designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will be supported by a Parent Advisory Board. The Parent Advisory Boards will consist of parents whose children attend a designated centre. As a parent advisory board, parents, operators and early childhood educators will work together to maximize the learning experiences for all children.

Accessibility

  • A new child care registry will serve as a one-stop shop for families to register their children for available child care spaces and have access to apply for subsidies online. Families will also be able to determine immediately whether spaces are available in a facility or if there is a wait list.
  • An annual $6 million Infant Operator Grant will be available to offset operational costs of infant care. It will provide $10 per occupied infant space per day.
  • Transforming as many child care facilities as possible, with an aim of designating more than 300 as New Brunswick Early Learning Centres by 2020 to offer more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.
  • Early Learning Centres will also receive support to help increase the number of infant spaces across the province by 200 by the year 2020.
  • Since October 2014 the provincial government has created nearly 3,000 new spaces and plans to expand the total number of spaces in New Brunswick to 30,000 by 2020.

Today’s announcement, excluding the Daycare Assistance Program, is part of a federal-provincial, three-year early learning and child care agreement that commits $71 million in investments to improve early learning and child care for preschool-aged children in the province. More details on the government’s plan to invest and transform the child care and early learning system are available in its Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan, Everyone at their best… from the start: Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan.