The Yukon government is promising full-time kindergarten in rural areas and a fixed cost for childcare, but details are still forthcoming.
According to the government, “Yukon families will have increased access to high quality, affordable childcare options for their children starting on April 1, 2021.”
In a statement, Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the average parent is currently paying $43 per day and the goal by the spring is to reduce that amount to $11 a day.
“Increasing access to quality early learning will allow families to take advantage of work opportunities, ease the financial burden for Yukon families and other caregivers, and most importantly, help close the developmental gap in the early years between Yukon’s rural and urban children,” McPhee said.
Full-time early kindergarten will also be introduced to all rural Yukon schools starting in the 2021-2022 school year.
The Child Care Services Unit, which is currently a part of the Department of Health and Social, will transfer to the Department of Education.
The government said it is currently speaking to First Nations governments, childcare operators and education groups on how to implement the long-time promise for universal childcare.
While the federal government has also committed to a taxpayer-funded system modelled on Quebec’s subsidized universal daycare model, the Yukon government has said it will begin working on its own plan as part of the Putting People First recommendations.
The Yukon Party reacted critically to the Feb. 1 announcement for being “extremely light on details.”
“Similar to the comments made by the Liberals in December, the February 1 announcement offered very little new detail about when a universal childcare system would be implemented in the territory, how the system was going to operate, and the program costs,” said a release from spokesperson Tim Kuckaruk.
The opposition suggested the announcement on an “unfinished policy” was an attempt to curry favour with voters in an election year.
In the fall sitting of the legislature, both Yukon Party MLA Patti McLeod and NDP MLA Liz Hanson called for details on the plan for universal childcare and criticized delays.
“A lack of affordable, quality child care means that many women are unable to rejoin the workforce,” Hanson said in October.
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