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Early childhood education and care: Next steps

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Report of The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Publication Date: 
28 Apr 2009

Description: The Senate of Canada, on November 20, 2006, authorized the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to undertake two tasks. First, the Committee was to examine the state of early learning and child care in Canada in view of the OECD report Starting Strong II, which rated Canada last among 14 countries on spending on early learning and child care programs. Second, the Committee was to study and report on the OECD challenge that “…significant energies and funding will need to be invested in the field to create a universal system in tune with the needs of a full employment economy, with gender equity and with new understandings of how young children develop and learn.” With this mandate, the Committee heard from child care providers and advocates from across Canada; officials from Human Resources and Social Development Canada; and visionaries and Canadian international experts with respect to human development in the early years. The Committee has recognized Canada’s strengths but also its weaknesses. The report says that the Government of Canada continues to provide budgetary support to the provincial and territorial governments for programming as well as to families through tax measures. The report provides both historical and current details on these federal investments. The Senate Committee recognizes that Canada’s research on early childhood development and learning is dependent on two things- ongoing support for research and support for the families of this nation. Some weaknesses are also identified. Too many Aboriginal children and too many children with special challenges are being left behind. Immigrant families look to Canada for special help for their children. Bilingualism brings a unique perspective to the provision of services for children especially those in minority settings. Too many of Canada’s children arrive at school not ready to learn. In the conclusion to this report, the Government of Canada is called upon to champion for families in the 21st century. The report also includes Committee recommendations.