Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Social Services


OTTAWA, November 2, 2004 – Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services met today and agreed on shared principles to guide the development of a new national system of early learning and child care, with the exception of Quebec. They laid the groundwork for a nation-wide initiative that will become a pillar of Canada’s social foundations. Ministers agreed to establish a long-term shared vision that would include measurable goals, shared principles, strong accountability, and provincial/territorial flexibility. The agreed-upon principles include quality, universally inclusive, accessible, and developmental. Ministers view this initiative as an important way of supporting parents in their primary role and responsibility in the care of their children.

“This has been an historic meeting. I am very pleased with the progress we have made here today,” said Minister Dryden. “This is a long-term effort, but we have a solid history of collaborative action, based on a shared commitment to improve opportunities for children and families. Canadians want and expect us to work together, and that is what we have done. Early learning and child care is recognized throughout Canada as an essential support for parents and young children.”

Ministers recognized the critical need to engage Aboriginal leaders in discussions about the best approaches for Aboriginal children. They also discussed the need to build on successful initiatives such as Aboriginal Head Start.

Ministers agreed to meet early in 2005 to finalize the agreement. They are aiming for an aggressive timetable, resulting in a formal agreement on the initiative and early resourcing in the 2005-06 fiscal year.

The new initiative will build on the success of the 2003 Federal-Provincial-Territorial Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care, which recognizes that provinces and territories have primary responsibility in this area.

“On behalf of my provincial and territorial colleagues, I want to acknowledge the enormous progress we have made today on early learning and child care and other initiatives,” said Minister Gillan. “We were able to achieve early consensus on essential elements. One of the keys to the success of an early learning and child care initiative will be building on the proposed investment and sustaining it over the long term.”

Ministers agreed to launch, on November 3, 2004, a new joint Web portal on early childhood development and early learning and child care that will make it easier for Canadians to find information on their governments’ programs for young children. (www.ecd-elcc.ca).

Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to working in partnership for the full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities. While recognizing that people with disabilities can benefit from advancements in the broader social agenda, Ministers also agreed to jointly develop a strategy for investments in disability programs, with both short and long-term options. Ministers committed to advancing issues that are important to Canadians with disabilities, including the three building blocks of In Unison – disability supports, income, and employment.

Ministers reviewed progress on the National Child Benefit. “The results show that the National Child Benefit is achieving a number of positive impacts for low-income families and their children,” said Minister Dryden. “This initiative is a concrete example of how governments can work together to make progress on joint priorities.”

In recognition of the growing role of caregivers, Ministers heard from the Honourable
Tony Ianno, Minister of State for Families and Caregivers, and discussed working together to develop a comprehensive strategy to support home-based informal caregivers of seniors and people with disabilities.

The meeting of Ministers was co-chaired by the Honourable Ken Dryden, Minister of Social Development Canada, and the Honourable Chester Gillan, Minister of Health and Social Services for Prince Edward Island.

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Linda Kristal
Minister Dryden’s Office
(613) 941-0766

Brian Bertelsen
Minister Gillan’s Office
(902) 626-9909

Media Relations
Social Development Canada
(613) 941-1110