FREDERICTON (GNB) – The federal and provincial governments have signed a one-year Early Learning and Child Care Agreement to create and support more high quality, affordable child care. The first agreement was signed in June 2017.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear something many of us have known for a long time: access to child care is not a luxury, it is an essential service,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “Ensuring access to affordable, high-quality early learning and child-care services will play an important role as New Brunswick recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting parents in their return to work. Continuing this agreement with the federal government will enable us to keeping delivering services families need and deserve.”

The agreement allocates nearly $10 million in 2020-21 for early learning and child-care investments in the province.

Specifically, the provincial government will continue to collaborate with the child-care sector and maintain the New Brunswick Early Learning Centres designation. This will assist the province in moving toward the goal of having access to high-quality, affordable child care for all families in both official languages by 2030.

“Child care is not a convenience, it is a necessity,” said federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen. “High-quality early learning experiences are essential to the intellectual, emotional and physical development of our children. The Government of Canada is pleased to continue working with the Government of New Brunswick to ensure that all children and families in New Brunswick have equal access to the quality early learning and child care they need to succeed.”

The agreement builds on the shared commitments made in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework and outlines New Brunswick’s unique child-care needs and priorities, including those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will ensure funding continues to be available to support child-care programs and services for families in 2020-21.

The provincial government’s, Everyone at their best… from the start: Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan, details how the government has made investments to transform the system. These include maintaining the New Brunswick Early Learning Centres designation, investing in training and professional development for early childhood educators, and implementing its inclusion policy and guidelines for language acquisition and cultural identity.