Prior to budget submission, CUPE had called on the federal government to invest 10 billion dollars over three years to expand the early learning and child care system and 7 billion dollars to resolve the labour crisis in the sector. 

While the investments announced in the 2024 budget fall short of our expectations, CUPE welcomes the measures targeted at increasing the number of early learning and child care spaces and attracting labour to rural and remote regions.  

Here is a summary of the investments that will impact the sector.  

To increase access and expand the infrastructure needed to create the new early learning and child care spaces that CWELCC (Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care – a federal program to provide funding to the territories and provinces for child care) has committed to: 

  • The Child Care Expansion Loan Program will offer $1 billion in low-cost loans and $60 million in non-repayable contributions to public and not-for-profit child care providers to build more child care spaces and renovate their existing child care centres.   
  • Budget 2024 proposes to provide $179.4 million over five years, starting in 2024-25, with $5.7 million in future years, to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.  
  • The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s expertise in financing capital projects will result in a fast roll-out of the program, and enable synergies between early learning and child care infrastructure and housing development. 
  • Budget 2024 also proposes $100 million over five years, starting in 2024-25, to Department of National Defence for early learning and child care services for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and their families. 
  • In addition, to access federal funding from Canada Build (a low-cost and social housing initiative), provinces and territories will be expected to consider the accessibility and expansion of not-for profit early learning and child care services, among other things. 
  • Budget 2024 also proposes to establish a new capacity building program to help providers apply for funding through the Child Care Expansion Loan Program, and to support early learning and child care research initiatives. 
  • To do this, they will reallocate up to $41.5 million over four years, starting in 2025-26, and up to $15 million ongoing from within Employment and Social Development Canada. 

To improve the working conditions of the ECE’s and other child care workers: 

  • The government intends to introduce legislative amendments to the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act and the Canada Student Loans Act to expand the reach of the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness Program to early childhood educators (ECEs) who work in rural and remote communities.  
  • The cost of this measure is estimated to be $48 million over four years, starting in 2025-26, and $15.8 million ongoing. 
  • On an ongoing basis, this is expected to benefit over 3,000 ECEs per year who work in rural and remote communities. 
  • Budget 2024 proposes to provide $10 million over two years, starting in 2024-25, to Employment and Social Development Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program to increase training for ECEs.  
  • The federal government is calling on provinces and territories to develop workforce strategies that best support the recruitment, retention, and recognition of these essential workers and to ensure that the ECEs are fairly compensated for the important work they do. This should include the creation of robust pension regimes.  

To further address the challenges faced by the care economy as a whole: 

  • Budget 2024 proposes a Sectoral Table on the Care Economy that will consult and provide recommendations to the federal government on concrete actions to better support the care economy, including early learning and child care.  
  • Budget 2024 also announces the government’s intention to launch consultations on the development of a National Caregiving Strategy.