Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada 2021

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Cover of publication with pictures of children
Jane Beach, Martha Friendly, Ngọc Thơ (Tegan) Nguyễn, Patrícia Borges-Nogueira, Matthew Taylor, Sophia Mohamed, Laurel Rothman, Barry Forer
29 Apr 2023
13th edition
ISBN: 978-1-896051-78-9

Current edition of ECEC in Canada available for download in PDF format

February 21, 2024, CRRU released a revised version of ECEC in Canada 2021 (full publication). Any substantive errors in both the main report and the English and French summary reports were revised. Individual chapters are available for download below.

See the ECEC in Canada archive for previous editions.

We are also very pleased that preparation of the 14th version of ECEC in Canada, a shorter data-only report with 2023 data, is well underway, expected in summer 2024, to be followed a year later by a full data and policy report with 2024 data. Much appreciation is due to Employment and Social Development Canada for funding this work. 

Companion documents

Summary and analysis of key findings: ECEC 2021 and beyond
Résumé et analyse des principaux résultats: Éducation à la petite enfance et services de garde au Canada en 2021 et au-delà

A summary of the Canada-wide early learning and child care agreements and action plans

Executive summary

Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada 2021 is the Childcare Resource and Research Unit’s 13th compilation of cross-Canada, longitudinal data and information about regulated early learning and child care (ELCC), kindergarten and parental leave. The report integrates administrative data provided by provincial/territorial officials (its primary source of information), data from Statistics Canada, from other research and information from public sources. The ECEC in Canada reports have been published about every two years since 1992, reliably serving as Canada's sole source of consistently collected and mostly comparable data on ELCC over time and across the country. See the ECEC in Canada backgrounder for details. See the ECEC in Canada archive for previous editions.

This 13th edition is especially important as it provides both a snapshot of ELCC in Canada as it began to move out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and benchmarks on key indicators at the very beginning of implementing the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) agreements and action plans. As CWELCC will continue to substantially impact ELCC provision, the child care workforce, parents, women's labour force participation and policy going forward, this report will provide indispensable data for identifying and analyzing these combined effects.

The report provides detailed provincial/territorial descriptive information on kindergarten and regulated child care programs (e.g. educator/teacher qualifications, wages, ratios, group/class size, curriculum, governance, affordability, and availability of spaces) as well as ELCC funding and pertinent demographic data such as the number of children, mothers' employment rates and more. It also offers a Canada-wide overview of ELCC governance, First Nations, Métis and Inuit ELCC, and parental leave.

ECEC in Canada 2021 is published in the hope of playing a key role in contributing insights valuable to new public policy development as all levels of governments continue to implement their parts of the CWELCC plan in the years ahead.

Table of Contents

NOTE: A linked table of contents is in the full publication.

Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, About & Data Source

State of Canadian early childhood education and care in 2022

How early learning and child care is organized in Canada: Roles and responsibilities

Parental leaves and benefits

Federal early learning and child care programs

First Nation, Métis and Inuit early learning and child care

Provinces and territories

    Newfoundland and Labrador 

    Prince Edward Island

    Nova Scotia

    New Brunswick






    British Columbia


    Northwest Territories


Comparative tables

    The big picture

    The long view

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ECEC in Canada