Access to quality and affordable child care is a pressing issue for many families in Newfoundland and Labrador. Please allow me the opportunity to provide your readers an update on child-care programs and services and initiatives in recent years to help reduce child care costs for families.
In December 2017, our government and the federal government signed a three-year bilateral agreement that allocated just over $22 million over three years to Newfoundland and Labrador for early learning and child care investments. This funding is addressing early learning and child care challenges through subsidies, grants and bursaries.
I want your readers to know subsidies and grants are available to help eligible parents or guardians pay for child care and are creating more affordable child care for eligible families with young children. Since last year, under the Operating Grant Program, there are approximately 1,000 more affordable child care spaces now available.
Funding for subsidies for parents to reduce the cost of childcare has been increased to $17 million annually. The threshold for a full subsidy has been adjusted to $32,000 net family income and will be further increased to $35,000 in the near future.
A partial subsidy is also available to many families with higher than the $32,000 net family income. For example, a two parent family with a net family income of $65,000 needing child care for two preschool-age children and one infant would be eligible for a child care subsidy of approximately $1,050 a month. As a result, there are now more than 500 additional families receiving a full subsidy.
In a report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that surveyed 28 major cities across Canada, it was noted that uptake on the Operating Grant Program in St. John’s has resulted in a drop in child care fees across all age groups surveyed. St. John’s is the only city, of the 28 surveyed, that has shown an overall drop in fees since their first report in 2014 – the majority of other cities saw a higher than inflation increase in fees. St. John’s has seen a reduction of 30 per cent in infant fees (from second highest at $1,394 a month (median fee) in 2014 to $977 a month (median fee) in 2018) and a 13 per cent drop in pre-school fees.
As a government, we recognize that child care plays a vital role in the healthy development of children and the well-being of families throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. We will continue to enhance access to quality, affordable early learning and child-care opportunities through The Way Forward and the Education Action Plan. For more information about Child Care Programs & Services in Newfoundland and Labrador visit www.childcare.gov.nl.ca.
Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development