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Q&A on Child Care

In the next three years, the Liberal Party of PEI has promised a $5,500,000 investment to Early Childhood Education.

Your promise: Fund 300 additional new spaces, including more spaces for the growing need for infant child care.

  • How does your party plan to work with the licensed ELCC field to create these new spaces?

  • What is your party’s target number for infant spaces across PEI? As of February 2019, there are 867 children currently waiting on PEI’s child care registry as needing a space within one year or less – 572 of whom are infants.

Your promise: Create new Early Years Centres, and establish more collaboration between private and public centres and local schools, to extend universally available spaces for 3 and 4-year-olds.

  • What is your party’s target number of Early Years Centres?

  • How does your party define “universally available spaces for 3 and 4-year-olds” – does this mean all 3 and 4-year-olds will have access to quality, affordable child care?

  • How does your party propose involving public and private centres and local schools?

Your promise: Significantly reduce parent fees by 2023, with reductions beginning in 2019.

  • Given there is not enough space for every child within publicly managed Early Years Centres, how does your party propose offsetting the negative impact this will have on private centres? Private centres rely on parent fees to operate quality programs.

  • How does your party propose keeping quality child care affordable for all families regardless of centre designation?

Your promise: Develop new early learning spaces that offer flexible times to support the needs of parents working shifts.

  • Has your party collected any recent data from Island families seeking their input on what child care options would best suit their needs?

Your promise: Provide supports to businesses and organizations that provide on-site childcare and early learning spaces for the children of their employees.

  • When a centre prioritizes service to one group of clients, they must keep vacant space available throughout the year to accommodate returning employees/new hires. How does your party propose to supplement on-site child care operations to accommodate for these gaps in revenue?

Your promise: Continue to invest in training and compensation advancements for our early learning educators in recognition of the critically important role they play in the development of our children.

  • Child care centre operators have reported to the ECDA that they cannot expand the number of children they accept due to the difficulty of recruiting and retaining certified Early Childhood Educators. Given that a quality workforce is essential to support the needed growth of the sector, how many educators does your party plan to recruit and train to support your proposed new spaces and centres?

  • Training opportunities need to be efficient and offered in a manner that allows educators to continue working and acquire their credentials in a timely manner. Does your party propose offering full diploma training support? 


Response

Thank you for your detailed inquiry on the Liberal Party of PEI’s commitment to further invest in early childhood education. We are proud that our investment and collaboration with ECE professionals over the last decade has led our province to now have the leading provision of early childhood education in Canada. We are committed to working together and making further investments to ensure our province retains its number one position in this important area.

As your questions suggest, the Liberal Party has the most significant commitments of any party in early childhood education. Specifically, our platform commits to an additional $5.5 million per year to improve both accessibility and quality for ECE in our province. We would look forward to working with ECDA on the development of further details that respond to needs and opportunities in early childhood education in our province.

As you know, we have much strength to build on. Our plan commits:

  1. $1.8 million per year to create an additional 300 spaces over the next three years, with 110 of these spaces for infants. We plan to work with both private and public centres in the development of this delivery – indeed, we will work with the ECDA and centre leaders on the development of all our plans.

  2. $2.7 million per year for further wage increases for ECE workers. With the recently announced increases to the wage grid for public early learning centres, private centre staff received the equivalent through lump sum payments. The Liberal Party would continue to look at fair investments that support both public and private Early Learning Centres and the families who attend their programs.

  3. $1 million per year to support affordability measures for lower-income families and families with multiple children to ensure that spaces are fully accessible across PEI by providing support directly to private centres.

  4. Increasing the number and recognition of early childhood educators, including working with Holland College and UPEI on training and ongoing professional development, and with ECDA on building a positive recruitment and retention brand for early childghood educators. 

The Liberal Party recognizes the need to balance the interests of private and public centres with the need for more spaces and a growing labour force and is proposing an approach that will be most effective in sustainable growth of early learning centre capacity on PEI. The wage increase already provided is the first step and, along with professional development, the Liberal Party is committed to further increases in the wages of early years educators. We would question the lack of clear costing the Green and NDPs have provided for a major wage boost. A new “First Jobs Incentive” will offer support for employers hiring in areas where there are challenges attracting new workers, including in early childhood education.

We know that there is much more work to do in early childhood education. The Liberal Party is committed to addressing accessibility, quality and affordability. As a government, our record of investment is well established. We look forward to working with ECDA, our private and public centres and our community leaders to ensure we are building the best early childhood education in the country and providing the best start to our children.