How to Remove the Barriers to Child Care Expansion - A Survey of Non-Profit and Public Child Care Licensees in Ontario

The messages we hear from these survey results comes through loud and clear.

  • Governments can and should act now to facilitate expansion of child care to meet parents’ needs (and to fulfill the promises they have made to parents).
  • Child care providers need government action to attract staff to early childhood education as a career - to raise wages in order to recruit and retain qualified educators.
  • Not-for-profit and public licensees need guarantees that operating funding will be available if they do expand; These licensees need access to capital funding, especially a program of capital grants, to kickstart the process of expansion.
  • And these not-for-profit and public child care operators need municipalities, school boards and provincial and federal governments to identify lands and buildings suitable and available for expansion."

Access the report. 

Early Childhood Education Report Evaluation: Monitor, Assess, Share - The Early Childhood Education Report

In October 2021, the Atkinson Centre commissioned an evaluation to inform future editions of the ECER in the context of past experiences and in light of the intended development of a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care system. This new policy direction and accompanying increase in public investment will require comprehensive data collection and monitoring to promote children’s equitable access to quality programming and provide accountability for public funding.

Access the evaluation,  Monitor, Assess, Share - The Early Childhood Education Report

Canada’s Children Need a Professional Early Childhood Education Workforce

Canada's child care workforce needs a bill of rights embedded in pending federal legislation, says a new report released by the researchers at the University of Toronto.

"In the race to lower parent fees and increase access, governments across Canada often overlook the people who provide the care. Yet the success of Canada's emerging early learning and child care system will depend on its workforce," says Dr. Emis Akbari, an author on the report.

"The status of the early childhood education workforce, and the quality of programming where small children spend their days are interdependent," reads the report. "Just as children's environments can support or impede their learning, educators' work environments can promote or hinder educator practices."

For a sector hit hard by COVID,  losing up to 21 percent of its staff, backfilling vacant positions takes precedence alongside finding an additional 32,000 educators, plus the support staff needed to meet expansion goals. Yet efforts to attract and retain educators are proving ineffective.

Across the care economy there is a reluctance to recognize that creating and maintaining a professional workforce requires a package of interventions to create inviting working conditions. These include wages and benefits reflecting the value of the work, resources and access to experts to do the job well, and opportunities for ongoing professional learning.

"Few jurisdictions have adopted this comprehensive approach," says Dr. Emis Akbari,  one of the report's authors. "Failure to do so will compromise the success of the emerging early learning and child care program."

Access the

What is Early Childhood Education?

PowerPoint Version (PDF)

Word Document Version (PDF)

Is Full-Day Kindergarten a Success?

We be looked back at more than a decade of full-day kindergarten in Ontario. How well has it worked? Were the original concerns about it warranted? And has it accomplished its goals. With guests Jane Bertrand of OISE at the University of Toronto; the Toronto Star's Kristin Rushowy, and the University of Toronto's Elizabeth Dhuey.


The Case for Early Learning and Child Care in Canada: A short-and long-term economic policy winner

Early learning and child care supports parental labour force participation. It is the social infrastructure we need to accelerate the economic recovery, build increased economic resiliency and ensure Canada is optimising its labour force at a time of aging demographics. Public investment in early learning and child care delivers material and sustained economic and social benefits that will increase Canadian prosperity and improve competitiveness. The benefits outweigh the costs -the estimated return on every dollar of government investment is between $1.5 to $6.

Continue reading.

Early Years Study Podcast

The evidence is crystal clear. When we invest in our children, we all benefit. When Canadian children thrive, Canada thrives. Since 1999, the Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain and the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation have been gathering the research and developing a bold vision for supporting our youngest citizens and their families. In this series of conversations, we speak with the researchers, educators and economists who have contributed their unique and important perspectives to Early Years Study 4. Each conversation is interesting and compelling on its own but, when combined, the call to action is loud and clear: high quality, early childhood education for ALL."

Access the entire series.

Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation Video

Margaret and Wallace McCain Family 
Foundation Video

The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, a champion of Canada’s youngest citizens, describes why early childhood education is so important. 

Early Learning Nation Video

Early Learning Nation

Economic Benefits of Public Investment

MWMFF board member and President of JSM Capital Corporation, Scott McCain, explains the economic benefits of public investment in early childhood education.  

Atkinson Centre Videos

The Atkinson Centre’s YouTube channel includes several videos that focus on early childhood education. 

Designing the ECE Report

Designing the ECE Report 

Dr. Emis Akbari, Atkinson Centre, OISE,  University of Toronto, and School of Early Childhood at George Brown College.

Trends in Early Childhood Education

Trends in Early Childhood Education 

Kerry McCuaig, Early Childhood Policy Fellow, Atkinson Centre, OISE, University of Toronto.

The Cost Of Inequity

The Cost of Inequity and the Role of Early Childhood Education  

Summer Institute 2017 keynote speaker, Craig Alexander, then Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada. 

Economic Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Economic Benefits of Early Childhood Education   

Economist Craig Alexander describes the economic benefits of investing in the next generation of workers. 

Time for Preschool

Time for Preschool 

A look into the lives of young children in early childhood education programs.  

Science of Early Child Development (SECD) Videos 

An Introduction to Early Child Development

An Introduction to Early Child Development 

A short video that describes what SECD is and how it is used. Margaret McCain and Marcel Lauziere (Lawson Foundation) explain why they are proud champions of SECD. 

The Long Reach of Early Childhood

The Long Reach of Early Childhood 

A short documentary (9 ½ minutes) that explains why early experiences reach forward and influence lifelong learning, behaviour, and health. It includes interviews with Dr. Fraser Mustard and international scientific researchers.  

Educa a Tu Hijo (Educate Your Child)

Educa a Tu Hijo (Educate Your Child) 

24-minute documentary that describes early childhood and family programs in Cuba. These programs contribute to Cuba’s high literacy and well-being outcomes, in spite of widespread poverty.  

Encyclopedia for Early Childhood Development Video 

Encyclopedia for Early Childhood Development Videos

A series of short videos that feature specific aspects of children’s behaviour.  

StoryPark Video 

The Power of Friendships in Early Childhood

The Power of Friendships in Early Childhood 

An interview with Jane Bertrand about friendships in early childhood education settings. Jane discusses how to set up environments that encourage children’s play and learning with each other.

The Offord Centre


EDI and the Early Years

A short video explaining the Early Development
Instrument (EDI)

The Prosperity Project™ is a new not-for-profit organization founded to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian women who are being disproportionately affected. The Project is pan-Canadian in scope and fills an important need to explicitly link women and prosperity, underscoring the economic importance of gender equality during the COVID-19 pre-recovery, recovery and post-recovery periods. We apply an intersectional identities and inclusivity lens to serve women who also identify as Indigenous, women of colour, refugees, persons with disabilities and/or LGBTQ2+. We recognize that different approaches are required to meet the distinct needs of all Canadian women including First Nations, Inuit and Métis women. The Project acknowledges the unique needs of women of colour and will enlist this broad spectrum. We are currently identifying partner organizations in order to deliver our programs. The Project was conceived by a diverse group of more than 60 female leaders from across Canada who will be actively supporting The Prosperity Project in important ways. The organization was founded and is being led by Women’s Executive Network and Canadian Board Diversity Council Founder, Pamela Jeffery.

Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development 
Université Laval and Université de Montréal 

The Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development is a project from the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. Over the years, this organization has built a solid network of international experts who, in their respective domain of expertise, gather, synthesize, and comment on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge available on the development of young children, from conception to age five.  

The online Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Developmenwas inspired and informed by the first Early Years Study in 1999. It is a broad knowledge repository that is continually updated by new evidence and policies to inform families, educators, and policy makers.  

The Science of Early Child Development (SECD) is an e-learning initiative designed to narrow the gap between research and practice. It is intended for anyone interested in learning more about the impact of early experience on lifelong health and well-being.  SECD offers a suite of online and offline media-rich educational resources with examples of research and programs from around the world. SECD was developed at Red River College in partnership with the University of Toronto and the Aga Khan Development Network.  

SECD was initiated in 2000 to bring the framework of understanding in the first Early Years Study to broader audiences and to enrich the professional education of practitioners who work with young children and their families.  

Early Development Instrument (EDI)
Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University 

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) assesses the developmental health of kindergarten children. It encompasses five major areas of child development: physical health and well-being, emotional maturity, social competence, language and cognitive development, and communication skills and general knowledge.  

Kindergarten teachers complete EDI on each individual child. The results are grouped together to provide a snapshot of how children are doing across schools, neighbourhoods, cities, provinces, and countries.  

The first Early Years Study championed such a monitoring tool leading to the support necessary to promote its use across Canada and internationally.  

Early Childhood Education Report 
Atkinson Centre, OISE, University of Toronto

The Early Childhood Education Report monitors provincial and territorial systems to evaluate the quality of provincial/territorial early childhood education. The first report was launched in Early Years Study 3 in 2011 and is released every three years using a 15-point scale.  Results are populated from detailed profiles of each jurisdiction. The report is organized around five categories: governance, funding, access, quality, and monitoring with 19 benchmarks forming a common set of minimum criteria that contribute to the delivery of quality ECE programming. 

Atkinson Centre Weekly e-Newsletter  
OISE, University of Toronto

The Atkinson Centre sends out a weekly e-newsletter to subscribers highlighting research, reports, events, and news related to early childhood education in Canada and around the world. 

Sign up for the Atkinson Centre's Weekly e-Newsletter.

The Lawson Foundation is working to advance outdoor play and ECE in Canada across policy, practice, and research.  

The online module summarizes an international three-year initiative to explore research, policy, and practice related to early child development. It is designed for use in online or face-to-face education venues and to inform individuals, including policy makers,  who are working with young children, their families, and communities. 

Policy Commentaries and Reports

February 2019
The Preemptive Nature of Quality Early Child Education on Special Educational Needs in Children  

Memorial University, Newfoundland  

David Philpott, Gabrielle Young, Kimberly Maich, Sharon Penney, and Emily Butler  

November 2017 
Ready for Life: A Socio-Economic Analysis of Early Childhood Education and Care 

The Conference Board of Canada 

Craig Alexander, Kip Beckman, Alicia Macdonald, Cory Renner & Matthew Steward 

The Role of Public Policies in Promoting Equity in Early Childhood 
In Global Report on Early Childhood Development

Global Consultative Group 

Ed. Abbie Raikes. Kerry McCuaig, Emis Akbari, and Jane Bertrand

The Conversation Canada is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.