Federal funding is earmarked for more child care spaces in “underserved” Yukon communities


The $10.5 million will flow after an action plan is put in place to route the money

While there are more than two hundred open child care spaces in the Yukon, millions of dollars in new federal funding recently announced in Whitehorse will help create more spaces in “underserved” communities.

Amid a backdrop of noisy children playing in and around the play area at Shipyards Park, Federal Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings announced on May 13 that $10.5 million would be allocated to create additional childcare spaces across the area .

“This will help Yukon reach underserved communities and ensure Indigenous children have access to the culturally appropriate care they deserve,” she said.

Funding comes from the Government of Canada's $625 million Early Learning and Child Care Infrastructure Fund and will be made available over the next few years following the development of an action plan.

Territorial Education Minister Jeanie McLean, who oversees child care and spoke at the news conference, said the funding is aimed at supporting nonprofits, First Nations and public child care providers.

“This is critical because these providers often face significant challenges in obtaining the capital funding necessary to build and maintain facilities that are safe, welcoming, inclusive, and actually in the “We are able to support families in underserved communities,” she said.

McLean said there has been “a lot” of development in Whitehorse, with new centers coming online in places like Pelly Crossing and there are currently vacancies in Ross River, Old Crow, Watson Lake and Dawson City.

“This will give us an opportunity to really pay attention to the other rural communities that may be underserved,” she said.

McLean added that Yukoners can already save up to $8,400 per year or $700 per month because universal child care is available to all Yukon families who use licensed child care spaces.

Approximately 1,900 of the more than 2,100 child care spaces in Yukon are currently occupied.

“Our commitment goes beyond infrastructure. It also touches on legal reform. We have started reviewing the Yukon Child Care ActMcLean said. She noted that the review “will ensure our laws reflect the current and future needs of Yukon families.”

McLean suggested an action plan for the federal money be put in place by the fall.

An email statement from Julie Menard of the Education Department's communications department explains how the funds will be spent on small or large projects that include planning, design, construction, renovations and start-up costs.

Menard provided a list of the number of early learning centers or family day care centers in Yukon communities outside of Whitehorse. Most have an early intervention center; Dawson City has three early learning centers; Old Crow has a family day care center and Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay do not have one.

At the press conference, MP Brendan Hanley commented under his hat as a health doctor.

“It’s a double investment,” he said.

“Investing in high-quality early childhood education and child care pays off about seven to one in terms of long-term productivity and well-being for children and families.”

Contact Dana Hatherly at [email protected]