Letter to the editor: child care and early childhood education

by DaniGirl on June 4, 2009 · 5 comments

in Working and mothering

Submitted this morning to the Ottawa Citizen:

As the mother of three boys, ages seven, five and one year old, I read with interest Elizabeth Payne’s op-ed article (“When we are six“, June 4, 2009) about school readiness in Ottawa. I think Ms Payne missed a valuable opportunity to link the issue of school readiness to the state of early childhood education in Canada.

Earlier this year, with practically no fanfare from the media, the Senate of Canada released a report called Early Childhood Education and Care: Next Steps. The report was inspired by a 2006 report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that ranked Canada dead last of 14 countries participating in the OECD’s Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care.

As noted in the Senate report, “the 50 reports that make up the OECD’s review of education and care services for pre-school-aged children comprise the largest body of comparative policy research to date in the field” and “allowed Canada to evaluate itself against international peers and provided a unique opportunity to drawn on best practices in early learning and child care policy and delivery.”

The report notes that of the countries studied, Canada ranked fourth overall for GDP and seventh overall for proportion of working mothers, but had the fourth-highest costs for child care and had the seventh-highest levels of child poverty. And, more on point with Ms Payne’s article, Canada came in last overall for attendance in early childhood education programs for ages 3 to 6 years old. Further, Canada came in 15th out of 20 countries on spending on social programs as a proportion of GDP and last of countries compared in spending on early learning and child care services.

Unfortunately, the main recommendations of the Senate report were for more bureaucracy, including recommending a Minister of State for Children and Youth and a bureaucratic network to support the Minister. It’s a start, I suppose. More disappointing, though, was the abject lack of interest by the media in this vitally important topic.

The issue of quality child care is not just about babysitting or “beer and popcorn” money designed to buy votes. We need to start working now on a workable national system of integrated early childhood education and child care. That will help to level the playing field across socio-economic levels, not just throughout the city but throughout Canada.

(Seems about once a year I get my knickers in enough of a knot to write to the Citizen. I’ll let you know if they publish it!)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 julie June 4, 2009 at 8:13 am

Extremely well written and on point. Kudos for taking the time to write and submit it.

2 Guillermo June 4, 2009 at 8:57 am

Simply… awesome letter! I will recommend it to my readers.

3 Guillermo June 4, 2009 at 8:58 am

By the way… you should have a botton to tweet posts…

4 Annika June 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Well said, Dani! I fully agree. I hope they publish your piece.

What I don’t understand is why the federal government is able to fund universal childcare for our friends/family/neighbours in Quebec, but not in the rest of the country. Quebec’s model is fantastic, but the $$ comes from the feds. The good ol’ Government of Canada needs to echo that level of funding to the remaining provinces and territories, so we can follow suit.

5 BeachMama June 4, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Great letter Dani. It will be interesting to see this all develop.

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