A pan-Canadian Early Learning and Child Care program is now reality – the federal government has signed agreements with all provinces and territories. $30 billion is already starting to flow. Estimates suggest that more than a million children under six-years-old will have access to early learning and child care within the next five years.
Now the hard work of transforming thirteen provincial and territorial patchworks of child care programs into a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system based on the principles of affordability, accessibility, inclusion and quality. Just as Canada’s health care system evolved since it was first introduced in the late 1960s, so will early learning and child care. Monitoring progress and learning from each other will be essential to a coherent system that balances equity for all children and families and unique regional history.
The recent commitment to a federal Early Learning and Child Care Act in 2022 is a critical building block to ensure sustainability that transcends changes in elected officials. It points to growing non-profit and public spaces, quality, and affordability – essential components of a publicly-funded and publicly-managed system.