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Child care and the future of Canada

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Notes for remarks at the AECEO/OCBCC "More Voices, More Action Conference"
Romanow, Roy
Publication Date: 
2 Jul 2006

Excerpts from the document:

Childcare is multi-pronged - it is a key plank in a strategy to address child and family poverty; it is essential to parents furthering their education, training and expanding their employment opportunities; it is a support to women's equality and community cohesion and promotes healthy child development.

In effect, good child care programs links itself to improving all of the so-called "tips" to good health and healthy living.

Stated another way, all this provides our common ground for the critical importance of childcare as a key component of a coherent, fair, and major investment in healthy outcomes for all Canadians.

Ken Dryden, the former Federal "childcare minister" made a point of noting that their early learning and care initiative was the next great nation-building endeavor building on public education and medicare. I agree with that sentiment.

So how we treat our children, how we nurture their beginnings, is a defining marker for the kind of nation we wish to build. Child care is no less important than that.

Like Medicare, child care is both a social program and an economic one.

Like Medicare, child care research demonstrates the major quality advantages of investing public money in a not-for-profit approach. Wages and conditions are better, early child educators in not-for-profits stay longer and therefore provide better sustaining relationships with children.

Like Medicare, child care has ideological enemies who use the word "choice" as a Trojan horse to reduce or weaken or eliminate the best choice for Canadians, namely high quality, not-for-profit, developmentally enriched child care. Instead, it offers some financial help so parents can hire a neighbor to baby sit. When did removing choice---especially a popular and evidence-superior one-- become offering real choice?

Ask the millions of Americans who do not have access to quality health care, how they are enjoying their choice.