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The Canadian government Monday agreed to provide affordable child care to families in Nunavut Territory, the Inuit peoples’ homeland.

“Today’s agreement with Nunavut is an important step forward to delivering on our Canada-wide early learning and child care system, which will save families thousands of dollars each year, create jobs, grow the middle class, and give our kids the best start in life,” Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a prepared statement.

“All families should have access to affordable child care. That is why we’re making $10-a-day child care a reality across the country,” he said.

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said, “The investments that we make into early learning opportunities for our children today determine our future. Safe, reliable, and affordable child care will not only yield positive outcomes in our children’s development, but it will also help families make ends meet.” The program will save families with children as much as an estimated $14,000 a year.

Nunavut’s Minister of Education Pamela Gross said the changes will provide better access to culturally relevant childcare, including funding for Inuktut language resources for child care facilities, with “the potential to greatly improve the lives of Nunavummiut.”

“The agreement also includes a clear commitment to continue to work collaboratively with representative Inuit organizations to ensure that all children in the territory have access to Inuit-specific Indigenous early learning and child care,” the statement reads.

Gross told the CBC, “the goal is to offer wages that reflect training and years of experience and improve recruitment,” with incentives for certification. However, non-licensed facilities also will be able to access the funding. Gross said "to anyone who wants to establish a day home we will work directly with those spaces."

The agreement signed by Akeeagok and Trudau commits to:

  • Reduce licensed child care by 50 percent by the end of 2022
  • Support $10-a-day child care by the end of March 2024
  • Create 238 new licensed early learning and child care spaces by March 2026
  • Supply federal funding of $66 million over five years, with a quarter of the funds going to increased wages for early childhood educators

(Related: A $31.5B settlement over treatment of Indigenous children - Indian Country Today)

Map of the Nunavut regions, Feb. 2016 (Photo by Maximilian Dörrbecker, Chumwa, Courtesy of Creative Commons)
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