Government of New Brunswick

Everyone at their best...from the start recognizes the importance of a child’s first five years, and outlines the steps government and its partners are taking to enhance the quality, accessibility, and affordability of early learning and child care in New Brunswick.   

How do you qualify for free or subsidized child care?

New Brunswick’s early learning and child care action plan provides for free and subsidized child care, offering parents the support they need to work, study and thrive.

This will ensure that no family will pay more than 20 per cent of their income for care at a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.

Find out if you qualify by using this calculator.


How did we get here?

A task force was appointed in May, 2015 to help address the challenges parents face when it comes to accessing quality and affordable child care services.

The task force conducted an objective review of the child care sector involving in-depth consultations with parents, educators, and daycare operators, a financial analysis of day care services, a review of New Brunswick’s regulations and research into promising practices in other jurisdictions.

The final report, published in August 2016, made 30 recommendations to enhance the accessibility, affordability and quality of New Brunswick’s early learning and child care offering.


  • High turnover rates impact continuity for children. The turnover rate in licensed child-care facilities is about 28 per cent; a healthy organization has a turnover rate of about 10 per cent.

  • Early childhood operators and educators have expressed their passion for working with children and families, while acknowledging that early childhood education as a profession is undervalued by society, as evidenced by low wages and challenging working conditions. Educators and operators have indicated that due to rising costs there is limited funding to contribute to pay increases.

  • Salaries represent 70 to 80 per cent of the costs of child care; the required and necessary ratios do not allow flexibility in increasing parent fees as revenue. Without sufficient public funding going into a child-care system, increasing staff wages comes at the expense of raising parent fees.

  • New Brunswick parents identified the high cost of early learning and child-care services, accessibility and availability as their chief concerns.

  • Currently, New Brunswick has a provincial coverage of 39% for children ages 0-5, 17% for 0-2 year olds and 53% for 2-5 year olds.

  • The high cost of child care has an impact on decisions by parents to leave or return to the workforce, attend post-secondary education or to have more children. Parents have compared the cost of early learning and child care as equivalent to mortgage payments.


Our vision

The importance of early learning is recognized as a key component to the continuum of learning and as such and for the first time has been included as part of New Brunswick’s 10-year education plans: การพนันฟุตบอลEveryone at their best and Donnons à nos enfants une longeur d’avance. Both have school readiness as an objective, ensuring that all preschool-aged children develop the competencies they need to be successful in school, and in life.    

Our vision is of a quality early learning and child care system that families can rely on, and that offers every child the foundation they need to reach their full potential.  

Improving early learning and child care

By 2030, New Brunswick’s early learning and child care system will be transformed to offer higher quality services that are universally accessible and affordable to all families and children.

The federal and provincial governments signed a three-year, bilateral early learning and child care agreement in August 2017, which will see the federal government invest close to $30 million to improve early learning and child care for preschool-aged children in the province. The Government of New Brunswick will contribute an additional $41 million, for a total of $71 million.

Our plan for early learning and child care will enhance:

  • Daycares in New Brunswick will be able to apply for a One-time Quality Improvement Grant to increase the quality of both indoor and outdoor learning environments, including equipment and materials, for children aged five and under. The one-time grants will total $4.7 million over the next two years.
  • $7.5 million in annual Quality Grants will be provided to help the facilities deliver high-quality child care services and meet the criteria of becoming a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre. The funding equates to a daily funding enhancement of $2.50 per space per day for children aged two to five years old. All early learning centre operators will be required to develop a plan for continuous quality improvement.
  • New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will offer services to preschool children aged five and under through a voluntary application process. Daycares are not required to be part of this program. Those that choose to do so will work in collaboration with the government with the aim of offering equitable and affordable access to high-quality early learning and child care services by removing barriers linked to family income, children’s abilities and needs, language and minority settings.
  • The government is investing $28 million, in addition to the multi-year bilateral funding, to support wage increases for early childhood educators. The funding will be rolled out over four years beginning in 2019-20 and raise wages from $16 an hour to $19 an hour for trained early childhood educators by 2022-23. 
  • A new child care registry will serve as a one-stop shop for families to register their children for available child care spaces and have access to apply for subsidies online. Families will also be able to determine immediately whether spaces are available in a facility or if there is a wait list.  
  • An Infant Operator Grant will be available to offset operational costs of infant care. It will provide $10 per occupied infant space per day.
  • Transforming as many child care facilities as possible, with an aim of designating more than 300 as New Brunswick Early Learning Centres by 2020 to offer more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.
  • Early Learning Centres will also receive support to help increase the number of infant spaces across the province by 200 by the year 2020.
  • Since October 2014 the provincial government has created nearly 3,000 new spaces and plans to expand the total number of spaces in New Brunswick to 30,000 by 2020.
  • The government is committed to investing in access to affordability for those New Brunswickers who need it the most. Families with an annual gross income under $37,500 will have access to free child care. The free daycare program is for parents who are either working or attending school, with children aged five and under attending a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.
  • The average New Brunswick household’s gross annual income is $75,700. Subsidies will be available for families with annual gross incomes of over $37,500 on a sliding scale. No family in New Brunswick will pay more than 20% of their gross annual family income to cover child care costs while their child is attending a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.

    These subsidies, along with the existing Daycare Assistance Program, will help make quality child care more affordable and accessible for even more New Brunswick families. Examples of how this will work are available online.  


“When it comes to a child’s learning and development we know that creating conditions for success in the early years is important,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Providing more affordable, accessible and high quality child care will strengthen families, the middle class and New Brunswick’s workforce of tomorrow.”
“This is an exciting time in early learning and child care as we create a path for success for New Brunswick children,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “We recognize the importance of investing in these foundational years to give every child a chance to develop to their full potential.”