The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care has fully supported the Ontario government’s vision of a system of early learning for all children from infants to 12 years old as laid out in the report “With Our Best Future in Mind”.
The Government picked just one piece to implement – full-day kindergarten for 4 and 5 year olds. This decision has placed significant financial pressure on child care centres, as caring for younger children is more expensive and funding was not provided to assist centres in the transition to caring for younger children.
That being said, cancelling what is a universal program for Ontario’s 4 and 5 year olds (as suggested in the recently released economic report by Don Drummond) will not protect the child care sector from collapse.
While a collapse of the child care sector would be bad for children and families, it would be disastrous for our economy. As laid out in Early Years Study 3 and based on the work of economist Robert Fairholm, child care is a tax generator, the biggest job creator, and a strong economic stimulant.
Aside from children, the main beneficiaries of child care are employers. Parents need access to high quality, affordable child care in order to work. While child care is an initial cost to the government, it provides significant returns to the province through increased tax revenues. Earnings from increased employment send back 90 cents in tax revenues to federal and provincial governments for every dollar invested, meaning investment in child care virtually pays for itself.
Child care is one of the highest job creators per dollar invested. Investing $1 million in child care would create at least 40 jobs, 43 percent more jobs than the next highest industry and four times the number of jobs generated by $1 million in construction spending. Every dollar invested in child care increases the economy’s output (GDP) by $2.30. This is one of the highest GDP multipliers of all major sectors.
Studies examining Quebec's $7/day child care program have shown this to be true. Pierre Fortin, an economics professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal, presented his findings that for every dollar Quebec invests, it recoups $1.05 while Ottawa receives a 44-cent windfall. The child care program was introduced gradually in 1997, and by 2008, about 70,000 more women with young children had entered the workforce who would not otherwise have been working, a 3.8 per cent increase, Fortin found. The ripple effect of their employment pumped an additional $5.2 billion into the Quebec economy, boosting the province’s Gross Domestic Product by 1.7 per cent.
We are aware of the tough fiscal environment the province is facing. That reality is one of the best arguments in favour of investing in child care now. We need child care to enable Ontario parents to work, lift families out of poverty, and increase tax revenues to the government. In addition, the long-term benefits to our economy and local communities are unquestionable.
The cuts to education put forward in Drummond’s report such as removing the ECEs from the classroom in full day kindergarten and increasing class sizes will not benefit Ontario’s economy; they will hurt kids. Furthermore, without an immediate investment in our early learning and child care sector, Ontario risks losing roughly half of its child care spaces. With 4 out of 5 kids already left out of licensed child care, we can’t afford to lose a single space.
Let your MPP and Minister of Education Laurel Broten know that you support child care funding: go to www.waitingforchildcare.ca to send an email.