Governments of Canada and Quebec sign first Funding Agreement on Early

Prime Minister Paul Martin and Quebec Premier Jean Charest, along with federal Social Development Minister Ken Dryden, Quebec’s Minister of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women Carole Théberge, President of the Privy Council and Intergovernmental Affairs
Minister Lucienne Robillard, and Quebec’s Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs Benoît Pelletier, announced today an historic agreement concerning the transfer of $1.125 billion over five years under the federal government’s Early Learning and Child Care Initiative.
This is the first funding agreement the Government of Canada has signed under the Early Learning and Child Care Initiative. “The best way for a forward-looking society to reach its goals is to help its youngest citizens,” said Prime Minister Martin. “It is essential, in
building a 21st century society, that we enhance and expand early learning and child care programs across Canada, with Quebec serving as an inspiration. This agreement also marks a further step in relations between the governments of Quebec and Canada. It shows that both governments can reach agreement on questions of primary importance for our citizens.”
Mr. Charest said, “The Government of Quebec is investing $1.5 billion annually in educational child care. Families in Quebec currently enjoy quality services that meet their needs. This type of investment illustrates our desire to place the welfare of Quebec families at the very centre of our priorities and actions. As a result, the governments of Canada and Quebec have agreed that Quebec will receive, unconditionally, its equal share of funds from the
federal initiative.”
This announcement follows the Government of Canada’s February 2005 budget
commitment to invest $5 billion over five years to enhance and expand high- quality developmental early learning and child care in collaboration with provinces and territories.
“Today’s announcement reflects Quebec’s leadership on early learning and child care,” said Minister Dryden. “Quebec has shown us how good and important an ambitious system of early learning and child care can be. And because of this, it is entirely appropriate that Quebec be the first jurisdiction to sign a final funding agreement with the Government of Canada.”
Quebec places a very high priority on early learning and child care and has invested significant amounts, putting in place a system that can serve as a model for the rest of Canada. This initiative will, in particular, help Quebec reach its goals for early learning and child care, recognizing the leadership of Quebec in this area.
Quebec’s Minister of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women, Carole Théberge, said, “We are pleased that the federal government recognizes that Quebec is a leader in child care. With the bill that I tabled Tuesday before the National Assembly on early learning and child care, we intend to further strengthen child care services with a view to improving accessibility and flexibility, and thereby continue to improve the quality of those services. It will give us great pleasure to share the expertise we have acquired over the past few years with our colleagues of other provinces,” she added.
“This agreement demonstrates the flexibility that characterizes a federation such as ours and allows us to conclude agreements that can adapt to the different situations, realities and needs of a province’s population,” said the Honourable Lucienne Robillard, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council.
“This agreement, besides being of an asymmetrical nature, respects the exclusive skills of Quebec and the positions expressed in this matter. We have always believed that it was possible to agree on a formula that would recognize the work already carried out by Quebec and that would therefore allow us to benefit from funding with no strings attached,” said Minister Pelletier.
Through this agreement, funds will be forwarded to Quebec to support these goals on early learning and child care and the well-being of families. The governments of Canada and Quebec will collaborate with other provinces and territories on best practices on early learning and child care that will improve early learning and child care programming as much as possible.
The Government of Canada recently signed similar Early Learning and Child Care Agreements in Principle with Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and British Columbia. It is anticipated that similar agreements with the remaining provinces and territories will be signed in the weeks and months ahead.