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Saskatchewan Stumbles in Implementing Federal Child Care Deal

Child care space creation slow, most first-year funding left unspent


October 12, 2023

Saskatchewan’s implementation of its Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government has proven to be very difficult in its first year, according to a Cardus research brief.

 Child Care Funding Update: Saskatchewan – Year One examines how Saskatchewan fared in the first year of the five-year agreement it signed with the federal government in August 2021. The province received more than $114 million in the first year of the agreement to bring it into what the federal government hopes will become a national $10-a-day daycare system.

One key finding in the research brief is that Saskatchewan wasn’t able to absorb all its first-year funding, and ultimately spent less than half of it.

While Saskatchewan did reduce parent fees, the province created only about 37% of the new child care spaces it was supposed to create, despite going almost $300,000 over-budget on that item. This has put the province well behind its space-creation target for Year Two of the agreement.

“The fanfare of that announcement of a child care funding deal between Saskatchewan and the federal government doesn’t match the reality of implementation on the ground in the province,” says Peter Jon Mitchell, Family Program Director at Cardus. “Governments have consistently underestimated both the costs and complexities of creating these systems. Directing funding to parents, instead of child care spaces, would be fairer, faster, and more effective.”

The research brief also commends Saskatchewan for being one of the few provinces and territories to publicly post its progress in implementing its 2021 Canada-wide child care funding deal.

Child Care Funding Update: Saskatchewan – Year One is publicly available online. Cardus has also published updates for British Columbia and New Brunswick, and will later publish updates for the other provinces and territories.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

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Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.