Yellowknife MLA Caitlin Cleveland wants the Northwest Territories to follow the Yukon’s lead in supporting affordable childcare across the territory.
On Tuesday, the Yukon government announced a subsidized childcare program. According to the CBC, the average daily cost for daycare in the Yukon will drop from $43 to $11 under the subsidy.
In the NWT Legislative Assembly on Friday, Kam Lake MLA Cleveland asked the territorial government: “Can we be more like the Yukon?”
Cleveland wants the NWT to start by providing universal childcare for full-time Aurora College students.
Among its priorities between 2019 and 2023, the NWT government states it will work to “advance universal childcare by increasing availability and affordability.”
Research has shown expanding affordable childcare programs would create jobs and help more women into the workforce, while developing children’s cognitive and social skills.
Minister of Education, Culture and Employment RJ Simpson said more infrastructure and training are needed before that can happen in the NWT.
Simpson assured MLAs, however, that childcare remains a priority. He intends to meet with the federal minister next week.
“This is an exciting time when it comes to this topic,” he said. “I’m open to hearing all the ideas that come forward and over the next few years we might be able to make some big strides if we can get the support of the federal government and the Assembly.”
Kevin O’Reilly, MLA for Frame Lake, said the territory could still do more. He stressed the need for the NWT to have a costed plan before approaching the federal government.
“You have to have your act together. You have to have the money identified as to how to roll it out,” O’Reilly said, expressing frustration that the previous government had not developed a costed plan in the four years after a feasibility study was completed.
“If we had done the work back then, we would have been ready with a specific ask,” he said.
Simpson said his department was putting together the “endless reports” completed on the subject but did not have a timeline for its work.
“Everything’s he’s saying is what we’re doing,” Simpson said.