children playing

The economic value of child care

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
County of Wellington Child Care Services
Publication Date: 
31 Mar 2012


Child care is as important to the local economy as public transportation and road systems.

Child care is both an industry in its own right as well as an infrastructure that enables other sectors of the economy to function. It is therefore critical for strategic planning for sustainable economic development to include planning for the infrastructure of child care and early childhood education. This applies to urban and rural development. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities recommends that in order for rural communities to maintain a high level of quality of life and sustainable economic competitiveness, there needs to be infrastructure development unique to serving both urban and rural populations that includes child care services.

This is what we need to move toward. The infrastructure for child care and early childhood education must have sustained funding that is also flexible in order to be responsive to the community. Ultimately, the lack of available child care spaces costs taxpayers more than a comprehensive, publicly planned child care system would.


Child care is delivered to families in Ontario based on a market strategy that is supported by limited public funding and policy. The child care system is supplemented by independent (not for profit and for profit) organizations and businesses. This method of system delivery appeals to some because of the potential cost‐savings to government; however, there are a number of factors that limit the cost‐savings reality. There is low profitability in child care, due to its high labour expenses; when child care is delivered with the intention of reducing costs and gaining profits, wages of workers are most often compromised in order to keep costs down. Early childhood educators' wages have a direct link to quality levels in child care programmes: the lower the wages, the lower the quality. To have a positive impact on sustainable economic development, child care must be high quality.


Building the infrastructure for economic development in Wellington and Guelph includes helping families to balance their work and family priorities. Economic and social progress at a societal level requires children's well‐being at the family level. Wellington and Guelph's economic wealth will benefit from high quality child care and early childhood education across all of our service planning areas.