Access to Early Childhood Education and Child Care

Ensuring Access to Early Childhood Education and Child Care for all Canadians Fighter. Builder. Leader. Fighter. Builder. Leader. Peggy Nash Campaign for the Leadership of the New Democratic Party At Issue Universal child care has been acknowledged for 40 years as a fundamental component of women’s full equality. Nowadays, experts and practitioners agree that well-designed early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs carry multiple benefits for individuals and society while helping bui
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  EnsuringAccess to EarlyChildhoodEducation andChild Care forall Canadians Fighter. Builder. Leader.  2 Peggy Nash Campaign for the Leadership of the New Democratic Party Fighter. Builder.  At Issue Universal child care has been acknowledged or 40 years as a undamental component o women’s ull equality.Nowadays, experts and practitioners agree that well-designed early childhood educationand care (ECEC) programs carry multiple benefts or individuals and society whilehelping build a strong, prosperous economy. ECEC is considered a key to equality andsocial justice or a wide range o communities and critical in the fght to eradicate poverty.Evidence shows that early childhood education and care can yield high social andeconomic returns in the short and long term by: ã Supporting women’s participation in the workorce and in education and training; ã Helping keep amilies out o poverty; ã Strengthening inclusion and respect or diversity; ã Building strong local economies and creating good jobs; ã Countering shrinkage o our uture labour orce as working populations age; ã Augmenting Canada’s prosperity by investing in our knowledge base; ã Strengthening cognitive and social skills as well as children’s health and well-being inthe early years to provide a strong oundation or learning and living in later years; ã Strengthening the equity, citizenship, social inclusion, and opportunities orcooperation, participation, and collaboration that orm the oundations o a strongcivil society; ã Countering Canada’s slide towards being a more unequal society.Such social and economic benefts can only be achieved i ECEC programming isdesigned to be o high quality and accessible.Evidence also indicates that instead o relying on “the market”, Canada shouldimplement non-proft services ocused on benefting children, amilies, society, and theeconomy.  3 Peggy Nash Campaign for the Leadership of the New Democratic Party Fighter. Builder. In Context Canada remains without a national child care plan, without pan-Canadian collaborationor fnancing, and without political leadership on this issue. While signifcant strides havebeen made by Quebec, provinces and territories have by and large yet to develop anadequate, well-designed, well-resourced approach to ECEC.The situation can be summed up as “too little money, too little policy”, resulting in aconsiderable gap in Canada’s social saety net that negatively aects children and amiliesas well as communities, society, the workorce, and the economy – now and in the uture.Since the 1980s, several attempts to create a national ECEC program have beenabandoned beore they could move rom drawing board to implementation.In 2007, the Harper Conservatives derailed a 2005 ECEC initiative by unilaterallycancelling agreements with provinces/territories that could have provided the rameworkor a more proactive, better-coordinated/unded approach to ECEC.The Harper Conservatives then introduced the “Universal Child Care Beneft” (UCCB),a monthly cheque to amilies or every child under age 6 (taxable). The $2.5 billion(annual) UCCB – intended to deliver the greatest beneft to two-parent amilies withone parent in the labour orce – has been widely criticized as poorly-spent money thatrepresents neither child care nor a poverty eradication program.Federal ECEC unds to provinces/territories have since been cut while any discussionbetween the ederal and provincial/territorial governments about pertinent social policyhas been abandoned.Meanwhile, amilies, children and community-based ECEC service providers bear thebrunt o shrinking options and fnancing. Availability, aordability, and quality are allthreatened as community-based programs close and new, or-proft corporations andcentre owners take advantage o the policy chaos to exploit service and unding shortages.  4 Peggy Nash Campaign for the Leadership of the New Democratic Party Fighter. Builder. Since the 1970s, Canada’s New Democratic Party has been committed to universal, highquality, public, not-or-proft child care as undamental to women’s ull equality and parto our core social democratic values.My vision or early childhood education and care in Canada is a high-quality anduniversally accessible system (available and aordable) or all children 0-12 years outsideregular school hours whose parents choose to use it.Under my leadership, the NDP – and the next government – will work immediately to: 1. Put ECEC back on the ederal/provincial/territorial table as an urgent social policyissue; 2. Promote a role or the Government o Canada in ECEC policy in balance with thehistorical roles/responsibilities o provinces/territories (acknowledging the uniqueaspirations and achievements o Quebec in this area); 3. Establish a policy ramework and unding commitments to guide collaboration withprovinces and territories to develop and maintain: ã Public plans (including legislation, objectives, targets, timetables) or developingcomprehensive and integrated provincial/territorial systems o ECEC services thatmeet the care and early education needs o both children and parents; ã Public expansion through publicly-managed, publicly-delivered, and non-proftECEC services; ã Public unding delivered to ECEC systems, not to individual parents, designed tocreate and maintain high-quality, accessible services; ã Public monitoring and reporting on the quality o and access to the ECEC system. 4. Develop a more comprehensive approach to amilies and children by placing ECECin the context o other amily policies. For example, ollowing the lead o Quebec inimproving maternity/parental leave. The Peggy Nash Plan

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