June 24, 2019, Hosted at EY Canada
On June 24th, 2019, Canadian Mothercraft Society hosted the business community and experts in child development for a focused discussion about why early childhood matters. The Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation's own Scott McCain was there to speak about the importance of early childhood education and how business leaders can make a difference.
Access Scott's remarks below. You can also access video of Scott's presentation on the Early Years Study Facebook page HERE
Monday, June 24th, 2019.
Canadian Mothercraft Society Event: 2019 Bill Bosworth Memorial Award
EY Canada offices, 100 Adelaide Street West, 40th floor
- Economic success in the next decade will not be measured in resources or manufacturing but in human capital. The winners will be those economic centres that can attract the best and brightest talent. These are people who will have strong literacy, math, science, engineering and social skills.
- Whether it’s learning to play hockey or crack a math formula, those who are most adept are those who start young. Whether it’s a physical or mental skill set, the earlier you’re exposed the better you will be. A child who learns to skate at 3 is worlds ahead of a child who just starts learning at 6. A three-year-old on the ice is developing muscle memory that will make him or her a more successful athlete for life. The three-year old in a preschool is developing the neural networks for later literacy and STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - skills that will make him or her a successful learner for life.
- This is the early education advantage and why the Conference Board of Canada, the World Bank, the OECD and others tell governments to invest in their preschoolers. They can quantify the return predicting savings of $6 for every $1 spent. Any business leader would be impressed with this kind of return on investment and lawmakers should be too.
- We don’t have to wait 20 or 25 years for the payback. ECE pays off immediately as more women are able to work. It pays off in the medium term with less demand for special education and it pays off in 20 plus years with a more competent workforce.
- You don’t get these results when a quarter of Canadian kids start school so far behind many never catch up. That percentage matches the number of adults in Canada with literacy challenges. A vibrant economy; a country ready to tackle challenges like climate change; a country able to sustain its democratic values, won’t be able to if so many are left unable to follow simple written instructions or help their child with their homework.
- Other countries know this and have been investing big in early education for years. Canada drags behind the pact, behind the Nordic countries, but also the UK, New Zealand, Australia, France and others. In a changing global economy being second is almost as bad as being last.
- Canada is making progress. Ontario has a quarter of a million 4 and 5 year olds in full day kindergarten, and we’re already seeing kids do better in school. Atlantic Canada, despite its economic challenges, is prioritizing early education and all 4 provinces have made significant progress in the past decade. Quebec and PEI lead the other provinces and territories.
- We can measure the impact of low cost child care on Quebec. Quebec now has the highest female labour force participation rate in the world! According to Steve Poloz, Governor, Bank of Canada, “If we could simply bring the [labour] participation rate of prime-age women in the rest of Canada up to the level of Quebec, we could add almost 300,000 people to our country’s workforce”.
- ECE is essential to mothers’ ability to work – from single parents living on social assistance to those who are in senior positions and want to maintain career trajectories.
This is why business leaders need to speak up and convince lawmakers to do more to support early childhood education - based on three key reasons:
It’s good for kids and families. It’s good for business. It’s good for Canada.