Early learning investment key to recovery


QUEEN'S PARK, Oct. 27 /CNW/ - Today's provincial government commitment to begin transforming early learning programs is a critical first step toward Ontario's economic recovery and future prosperity, say public education and early learning advocates.

The announcement is a needed first step to implementing the transformative vision recommended last spring by the Premier's early learning advisor Dr. Charles Pascal, which was widely applauded by parents, public educators and early learning providers.

"In these tough times it's encouraging to see the government is sticking to a strategy that will be as good for families and children as it is for Ontario's economic recovery," says Annie Kidder, People for Education. "Early learning is one of the best stimulus investments a government can make to stem an economic downturn.

"Beginning the transformation of our schools into vibrant community hubs will pay off for generations to come. We must stick to the full vision laid out in the Pascal report, so that Ontario becomes a world leader in early learning innovation."

Andrea Calver, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, says today's announcement represents the first new provincial investment in early learning in about two decades.

"There is still a lot of work ahead to implement the Pascal blueprint but today's commitment is a green light to municipalities, school boards and the early learning sector to move forward on making the vision a reality," Calver says. "It's time to get to work."

"We are more than ready to partner with teachers to create a team-based approach to providing Ontario's children the best full-day early learning experience possible," says Diane Kashin, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario. "That's the vision in the Pascal report and it's one we're committed to, because it's best for children."
Support for today's early learning announcement
"I am relieved and appreciative of the Premier's strong commitment to the early learning and care agenda for Ontario's children, even in the most difficult economic times we have ever faced. Staying the course with the investment in the early years is mission critical to our economic future, and to the health, well being and success of all our children." - Dr. Robin Williams, paediatrician and public health physician.
"The Government's announcement today to implement full-day learning is a great investment. It is a great start to moving ahead with the excellent report prepared by Charles Pascal." - The Honourable William G. Davis, P.C., C.C., Q.C.
"Today's announcement from the Ontario government opens the way for what so many of us have been anticipating for decades, beginning to build a coherent early childhood education and care system, rather than merely applying band-aids. The Pascal report has changed the dialogue across Canada about how to go beyond just shoring up child care to creating an ECEC system to support families in the 21st century. From this perspective, today's announcement signals the beginning - not the end - of the process." - Martha Friendly, Child Care Resource Unit.
"WoodGreen Community Services fully supports the recommendations in Dr. Charles Pascal's report. WoodGreen and Bruce Jr. Public School are proud to say we have already implemented this innovative model. It has been successfully running, to the delight of students, parents, teachers and early childhood educators, for more than five years. Now is the time for all Ontario families to have this choice." - Brian F.C. Smith, President & C.E.O., WoodGreen Community Services.
"More than a decade of solid research at home and abroad shows the benefits of this direction for children's learning and development, and social savings on prevention. Healthier, better educated children are the best social and economic investment we can make, now more than ever." - Carl Corter Atkinson Charitable Foundation Chair in Early Child Development and Education, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.


For further information: For interviews, please contact:

Andrea Calver (416) 434-8031;

Annie Kidder (416) 508-1484;

Diane Kashin (416) 917-7406