An Open Letter to the Men and Woman Who Lead Federal Political Parties:

    OTTAWA, Sept. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Early childhood education and care should
be one of the most important 21st century social programs. It is part of any
vision of a Canada that works economically and works for its people. Good
quality accessible child care is a perfect fit with the values of social
justice and equity that Canadians espouse. Early childhood education and care
is - at one and the same time - a foundation of lifelong learning and healthy
development for children, essential to support parents' employment and
learning, necessary in any poverty reduction strategy, critical to women's
equality, an important element of reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples and
key to social inclusion for newcomers to Canada. Early childhood education and
care (ECEC) is about rights and citizenship.
    Yet Canada is one of the world's ECEC laggards. Canada is the lowest
spender on ECEC programs of any Organization of Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) country and ranks at the very bottom of international
assessments of ECEC access and quality. Many other countries now routinely
provide publicly-funded early childhood programs for their three to five year
olds but Canada has yet to take even this first step. Our record of neglect
brings shame to Canadians who were once so proud of our record on social
    We have an opportunity in this election to begin to turn Canada around.
We call on each of you, as the leader of your political party, to commit to:

    - A national plan to make high quality early childhood education and care
      a reality over the next decade for all who want it.

    - Increasing federal funds, starting with an additional $1.2 billion in
      the first year.

    - Federal legislation (recognizing Quebec's distinctiveness) to establish
      the conditions, criteria and principles for the accountable use of
      federal funds in the provinces and territories.

    - Improved maternity/parental leave policy to complement the new ECEC

    This federal election is a very important one for Canada. Canadians are
being offered radically different visions of our countries' future. The values
that we vote for this fall will shape Canada in the 21st century.
    We urge you to reflect this in your party's commitments to Canada's
children and families.

    Chairperson, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

    The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada is dedicated to promoting a
publicly funded, inclusive, quality, non-profit child care system.
Membership-based and regionally representative, the CCAAC is a non-profit

    Code Blue is a Canada-wide campaign to build a real pan-Canadian child
care system. The campaign brings together parents, national, provincial and
territorial child care organizations, labour, women's and social justice
groups along with Canadians from all walks of life.

For further information:

For further information: Jody Dallaire, Chairperson, Child Care Advocacy
Association of Canada, (506) 961-1131 (cell); Code Blue: Shellie Bird, (613)

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