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Canada’s daycare system gets a failing grade

The Story

It's out there, but it's proving harder and harder to find. That's the verdict of a report on Canada's child care system by an influential economic think tank in the winter of 2004. The study looks at daycares in four provinces and determines that Canada's system is chronically underfunded, and provides little more than babysitting for busy parents. This CBC Radio clip looks at the report and finds out why Canadian daycare got a failing grade. 

Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 2004
Guest: Laurie Lamont, Heidi Nacka, Pat Wedge
Host: Bernie McNamee, Barbara Smith
Reporter: Leslie McLaren
Duration: 3:03

Did You know?

• In October 2004, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report that looked at child care in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

• The study, Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada, described Canada's system as a chronically underfunded patchwork of programs with no long-term goals. It found many centres were ill equipped for young children, many workers were not properly trained and staff turnover was very high.

• The report also praised Quebec's system, calling it "one of the most ambitious early education and care policies in North America." It also said Quebec accounted for 40 per cent of Canada's total number of regulated daycare spaces.

• The OECD recommended that Canada boost its child care spending to 0.4 per cent of its gross domestic product -- more than double its current spending.

• A 2001 report on child care by Statistics Canada showed that 53 per cent of children aged six months to five years were in some form of daycare. That number jumped from 42 per cent in 1994.

• The OECD report came as Paul Martin's Liberal government committed itself to a national program.

• During the federal election campaign of 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin had promised a cash infusion of $5 billion to boost the number of regulated daycare spots. The plan was to have 250,000 new child care spaces by 2009.

• The government's throne speech in October 2004 said: "The time has come for a truly national system of early learning and child care," and stressed universality.

• Manitoba and Saskatchewan signed on to the plan in April 2005. The provinces were to receive around $25 million each for daycare. In May 2005 Ontario signed an agreement with the federal government that would see $1.9 billion go to the province over five years.

• The plan was scrapped altogether when the Conservative Party was elected to a minority government in January 2006.


Who Cares For Our Kids? The Changing Face of Daycare in Canada more