Universal Early Childhood Education is a Game Changer

It's the smartest investment Canada can make.

High quality early childhood education (ECE) provides crucial developmental benefits giving ALL children the opportunity to thrive throughout their lives.

Not only does ECE benefit children but Canadian society and the economy as well. Over the last 20 years since the Honourable Margaret McCain and Dr. Fraser Mustard released the first Early Years Study in 1999, Early Years Studies 1, 2, and 3 have influenced far-reaching government action, including:

  • Enhanced parental leave, now up to 19 months
  • Full day kindergarten for 4 year olds in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and Nova Scotia
  • Full day kindergarten for 5 year olds in British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and PEI
  • ECE through public education for 40% of 4 year olds 
  • ECE public funding tripled across Canada

High Quality Early Childhood Education is Not Babysitting

It is play, with purpose.

Early childhood education (ECE) is play-based learning in a nurturing environment, guided by experienced educators. It has a profound impact during the preschool years when children are developing language, social, literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills as well as self-regulation and confidence. These crucial skills set them on a pathway for success that impacts their entire lives.

Universal Early Childhood Education is A Good Investment

Every $1 invested in early childhood education yields $6 in economic benefits.

The Economic Benefits of ECE:

  • Prepares children for the 21st century workplace
  • Gets parents out of poverty and back to work
  • Stimulates the economy and addresses workforce shortages
  • Reduces gender and income inequality for women
  • Promotes diversity
  • Increases high school graduation rates
  • Reduces the need for special education

It's Time to Invest in Canada’s Children

Early childhood education creates a Double Dividend that simultaneously supports children’s learning and well-being while also enabling parents to participate in the workforce.

Children who participate in high quality ECE are more successful in school then go on to make their own economic and social contributions. Early Years Study 4 calls on governments to offer quality early childhood education to preschool-aged children across the country.

The return on this investment not only outweighs the cost, it is crucial to the future of Canadian society.


Every $1 dollar invested in ECE yields $6 in economic benefits over the lifetime of a child. Yet Canada ranks just 33rd out of 35 OECD countries where ECE enrolment for children 5 and younger averages 70% (Canada’s enrolment rate is 54%).

For Canada to reach the OECD enrolment average of 70%, Canada would need to invest an additional $8 billion per year.

 The figures are big, but so are the payoffs.

 Early childhood education benefits children, families, and society. This additional investment in ECE would:

  • Improve educational outcomes such as higher graduation rates and less need for special education
  • Prepare children for the 21st century workplace by promoting language and thinking skills, as well as physical, social, and emotional well-being
  • Stimulate the economy and address workforce shortages
  • Reduce gender and income inequality for women
  • Increase social equity for marginalized children
  • Boost maternal labour force participation 
  • Promote diversity

The tax revenue from more parents working would not only help fund the additional costs but would also raise many families out of poverty reducing health and other social costs. 

Early childhood education is key to creating a thriving society. Investing in ECE benefits children, families, and all of society. Yet it is more than dollars and cents. For everyone to benefit, Canada also needs strong public leadership and a shared vision that ECE matters.

ECE is the smartest investment Canada can make.

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