The NWT government will provide $5 million to help childcare services for essential workers, including money that cuts childcare costs for parents who must head out to work.
A subsidy of almost $2 million will reduce childcare costs by a third for parents in essential jobs, ministers Caroline Wawzonek and RJ Simpson announced on Friday.
Priority will go to healthcare workers and those who have to physically attend jobs at work sites like airlines, airports, grocery stores, or mining and oil sites, and will run for the next three months. This funding is on top of the federal government’s increased Canada Child Benefit.
The NWT government wants to ease the burden on essential workers “experiencing increased childcare pressures due to self-isolation and physical distancing requirements,” said Simpson, the education minister, in a news release.
Some of the NWT’s childcare programs are free but others can cost $1,000 per month or more according to a 2019 study. Friday’s announcement will let parents who qualify shave hundreds of dollars from their monthly childcare costs.
Funding will also go toward three other initiatives.
$1.3 million is set aside to provide a $1,000 monthly wage top-up for approximately 220 childcare workers, with $665,000 for supplies and labour to keep facilities clean. There will be $1.2 million to help facilities cover fixed costs such as rent, electricity, and water.
The territory says it’s working to match healthcare workers with childcare needs to “known vacancies in open programs.”
Many early learning and childcare programs in the NWT have remained open throughout the pandemic, a decision encouraged since the start by Dr Kami Kandola, the territory’s chief public health officer. At this time, about half of licensed childcare providers in the territory are operating. Simpson said he hopes this funding will allow more facilities to reopen their doors.
“Our government remains committed to supporting people, businesses, and communities that have been directly affected by this pandemic,” said Wawzonek in Friday’s news release.
Wawzonek said the territory was committed to measures that help “parents who must continue to go in to work to provide necessary services and support to their fellow NWT residents.”