(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes Canada’s announcement of emergency funding for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement committed to investing approximately $70 million over the 2020-21 fiscal year to support First Nations ELCC providers to safely reopen and deliver programs and services for First Nations children and families during the pandemic.
“Today’s announcement acknowledges the important role that First Nations early learning and child care programs play in developing happy and healthy First Nations children. The pandemic has exacerbated systemic disadvantages for First Nations, making these programs that support our children’s wellbeing more important than ever. COVID-19 has complicated how programs are delivered, but the safety of the providers and participants has continued to be a top priority,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “This funding will help First Nations early learning and child care service providers adjust to the realities of COVID-19 and continue to deliver these important programs in a safe way.”
Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart holds the Social Development portfolio at the AFN and says that the funding not only will help First Nations ELCC programs reopen safely when they are ready, but also recognizes the work they have done throughout the pandemic.
“We want to lift up the staff and management at our First Nations early learning and child care programs. They have done amazing work supporting our children and families during the pandemic,” Regional Chief Hart said. “This investment is a good first step to ensure that this work is recognized and can operate safely as many of our communities move into the second wave of this pandemic. I will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for more investments where they are needed to ensure the continued safety of our children and families.”
This investment comes in addition to the September 2020 Throne Speech, in which the federal government committed to creating a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.
“I will continue to speak up for the needs of First Nations children, families and early learning and child care providers, particularly as Canada moves to create a national early learning and child care system,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We must ensure that First Nations are properly supported in a new national system for early learning and child care, and further that the distinct needs and priorities of First Nations are respected in this, which is especially important in the context of COVID-19.”
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information please contact:
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
Assembly of First Nations