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An analysis of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework and the Early Learning and Child Care Bilateral Agreements

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Pasolli, Lisa
Publication Date: 
1 Feb 2019

EXCERPTS from the Introduction

The barriers in the way of a national early learning and child care (ELCC) strategy in Canada are well-known. Among the most significant challenges are: Canadian federalism; an unwillingness to allocate sufficient public funding; and the contested historical belief that publicly-funded child care should be treated as “welfare” rather than a universal entitlement. Yet, the need for good ELCC remains pressing: today, 71% of mothers whose youngest child is between 0 and 2 years of age are in the labour force, as are 77% of mothers whose youngest child is between 3 and 5 years of age (Friendly, et al., 2018).

The consequence of this never-ending story is that ELCC in Canada is in a perpetual state of crisis. Numerous studies and assessments paint a nation-wide picture of a severe shortage of spaces, unaffordable fees, poor working conditions for early childhood educators (ECEs), service gaps that have led to the expansion of for-profit services, and programs of questionable quality.

ELCC in Canada performs poorly by international standards. UNICEF’s oft-cited 2008 study of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in 25 OECD countries ranked Canada at the bottom of the list in terms of ten quantified ELCC benchmarks (UNICEF, 2008). Since the publication of this study, ECEC services have continued to develop in OECD countries, especially in Europe. The situation in Canada, however, has barely improved since the study was released a decade ago. Child care services in Canada are organized on a market model, resulting in unaffordable parent fees, inequitable and inadequate availability of services, and, too often, of low or modest quality (Beach and Ferns, 2015).

Entered Date: 
10 Apr 2019
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