Investing in Public and Nonprofit Child Care

Image credit: Christopher Katsarov

This open letter was originally published by the Early Child Development Funders Working Group on June 30, 2021.

The Federal Budget 2021 provides $30 Billion over 5 years for the building of a “Canada-wide, community-based system of quality child care.” It compares a quality child care system to  public schools: “Just as public school provides children with quality education in their neighbourhoods, the government’s goal is to ensure that all families have access to high-quality, affordable and flexible early learning and child care no matter where they live.”

Ottawa further commits to working with provinces and territories  to build such a system through “primarily not-for-profit sector child care providers … while ensuring that families in all licensed spaces benefit from more affordable child care.”

The federal position is backed by national and international evidence showing that child care systems dominated by not-for-profit and public providers, are more inclusive of low-income families, and deliver higher quality services at lower costs.

Recognizing that much of Canada’s child care services now operate as commercial ventures, the intention is not to abolish for-profit child care,  rather to ensure public funds do not support its growth in existing or new programs.  Already established for-profit services  that meet quality standards, charge government-regulated parent fees, and are financially transparent to ensure accountability for public funds, would receive support.

Non-profit and public providers are the best partners for governments to build a Canada-wide child care system. The sector is able to offer a variety of flexible, high quality early learning and child care choices to all families without compromising program quality, or safety and working conditions. Expanding partnerships with the non-profit/public sectors will have positive cascading effects for children, parents – especially mothers,  the early childhood workforce, communities and the broader economy for years to come.

The undersigned recommend:

  1. Targeting all federal investments for expanding early learning and child care across Canada exclusively to non-profit and public providers.
  2. Providing federal capital investments for building new early learning and child care spaces and retrofitting existing spaces exclusively to non-profit and public providers.
  3. Investing in non-profit and public infrastructure to support the effective planning and equitable development of child care services.

Colette Murphy, Executive Director,  Atkinson Foundation

Jean-Marc Chouinard, President, Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation

Laura Manning, Executive Director, Lyle S. Hallman Foundation

Marcel Lauzière, President & CEO, Lawson Foundation

Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain, Founder & Chair, Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation, Inc.

Neria Aylward,  Executive Director,  Jimmy Pratt Foundation

Lyn Baptist, Past Chair, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Gordon Cleveland, Associate Professor Emeritus Economics, University of Toronto.

Pierre Fortin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Université du Québec à Montréal

Christa Japel, Professor in Education and Psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Sarah Kaplan, Distinguished Professor of Gender and the Economy, Professor of Strategic Management, Director, Institute for Gender and the Economy, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Paul Kershaw, University of BC School of Population Health, Human Early Learning Partnership, Director of UBC Masters of Public Health Program, Founder, Generation Squeeze

David Morley, President and CEO, UNICEF Canada

Charles E. Pascal, Professor: OISE/University of Toronto, Former Ontario Deputy Minister of Education,  Former Early Learning Advisor to Premier of Ontario

Susan Prentice, Duff Roblin Professor of Government, University of Manitoba

Helen Sinclair, Former President, Canadian Bankers Association

Beverly Topping, Founder, Today’s Parent

Armine Yalnizyan,  Economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers

SOURCE Early Child Development Funders Working Group


For more information please visit the Early Child Development Funders Working Group website or contact info@ecdfwg.ca.