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Alternative Federal Budget 2014: Striking a better balance

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Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Publication Date: 
5 Feb 2014

Excerpts from the Child Care: Early Childhood Education and Care chapter:

There is compelling evidence that public investment in ECEC offers exceptional benefits per dollar invested. Studies have shown that well-designed public spending on ECEC promotes child and family health, advances women's equality, addresses poverty, deepens social inclusion, and grows the economy. But a market-based approach won't make it happen.

• The AFB will begin to build, with provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities, a system of high-quality, affordable, inclusive, publicly managed ECEC across Canada with equitable access for all children and families.

• To protect and promote the public interest, the AFB will provide leadership and significant funding support to provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities that commit to building public systems of ECEC. The goal of this approach is to ensure access - over time - to high-quality ECEC for all. Public funding for ECEC will reach at least 1% of GDP, with contributions from both federal and provincial/ territorial governments.

• In 2014-15 the AFB will invest $1.0 billion of federal funds and increase this investment by $1 billion more each year over five years. At the five-year mark, a major evaluation will be done to determine how to fine-tune the program going forward. Overall, it is expected that regular funding increases will be made until a mature universal program has been achieved.

• The AFB will establish an overarching federal policy framework to guide collaboration between the federal government and provinces/territories. The AFB will provide federal funds to those that are accountable for developing and maintaining the following:

• Public plans for developing, over time, comprehensive, integrated systems of ECEC services to meet the care and early education needs of children and parents.

• The overarching federal policy framework and each detailed provincial/ territorial framework will include a vision statement that treats ECEC as a public good and a children's and women's right; principles including universal access and affordability, high quality, full inclusion, and respect for diversity; clear targets and timetables; legislation at both federal and provincial/territorial levels; integration of "care" and "education"; a well-trained, well-paid ECEC workforce; democratic participation of parents and community; data, research, and evaluation to ensure robust public policy development.

• Public management of the expansion of public and not-for-profit regulated services under public authorities through public planning processes (including integration of existing community-based services into publicly managed systems).

• Public funding delivered to ECEC systems (rather than through taxes or other individual parent-payment measures), designed to create and maintain high-quality, accessible services through predictable, sustained, dedicated funding.

• Public monitoring and reporting in federal and provincial/territorial legislatures on quality, access, and affordability of the ECEC care system.Within this broad approach the AFB acknowledges the right of Canada's Indigenous peoples to design, deliver, and govern their own ECEC services. The AFB also respects Quebec's right to develop social programs, while recognizing that additional federal funding and more focused public policy are required to further advance quality and equitable access in Quebec's system. The AFB encourages the federal government and other provinces/territories to work with Quebec to achieve the province's goals for child care.