The government of Canada and the government of Nunavut are providing $2.4 million in support for early education and child care programs as part of the Canada-Nunavut Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
The $2.4 million commitment, announced on Monday by Canada’s Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development Ahmed Hussen and Nunavut’s Minister of Education David Joanasie will help ensure access to high quality learning opportunities for children in underserved communities in the northern territory. The funds will also help address the unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across Nunavut, the government said in a press release.
“Child care is not a convenience, it is a necessity,” Hussen said. “High quality early learning experiences are essential to the development of our children, and the availability of affordable, flexible child care will be key to ensuring Canadian parents can return to work so our economy can recover from this crisis.”
While Nunavut has remained free of COVID-19 cases, the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic had a significant impact on education there. Quality child care options for younger children declined due to layoffs and loss of funding from non-profit partners, and school closures created education gaps between students who had access to technology and those who didn’t, CTV reported.
In April, a group of daycare workers in Iqaluit and Pond Inle requested additional financial support from the territory to keep their services running amid the pandemic. Five months later, the Nunavut government finally answered their call.
The funding will focus on ensuring child care centres have sufficient means to carry out their activities, while equipping childhood educators with the knowledge and skills they need to meet children’s needs. Meanwhile, programming and teaching resources in all of Nunavut’s official languages will also be developed, the government said.
“We must ensure that children and students across Nunavut are given every opportunity to learn and grow in safe, healthy, and productive learning environments,” Joanasie said. “This funding will certainly help our learning facilities provide the vital supports that Nunavut families expect and need.”
In total, the government said it will invest $1.2 billion in this area in Canada in 2020-2021.