Early Learning and Child Care in Canada: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?

Institute for Research on Public Policy, October 19, 2022

Excerpt: "Canada is on the cusp of a major leap forward in child care with the roll out of a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care system that promises to lower child care fees by the end of 2022 and achieve $10-a-day child care by 2026. As federal, provincial and territorial governments develop implementation plans, it is worth evaluating progress on indicators of affordability, accessibility and quality of child care over the last 30 years.

Comparing data from the 1980s and 1990s with 2019 shows significant progress in many areas. However, child care fees have continued to rise over time and there has been mixed progress across provinces and territories on staff-to-child ratios, wages for early childhood educators and funding for low-income families.

Achieving $10-a-day child care across Canada needs to be done in conjunction with addressing shortages in spaces, and in recruiting and retaining sufficient early childhood educators. It is also not clear that the funding allocated will be sufficient to bring fees down to $10 a day in high-cost jurisdictions such as B.C., Alberta and Ontario. In addition, as the federal government considers changes to the Employment Insurance program, it should remember the importance of supporting parental care for children for those currently ineligible for benefits.

This paper provides four recommendations for governments, drawing on analysis of national and regional progress."

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