TORONTO, Feb. 7, 2018 /CNW/ - In 2017, provinces and territories spent almost $11.7 billion on educational programs for young children. More than half of Canadian preschoolers attended an early childhood program and the educators who teach and care for them are getting better pay. It's mainly a good news story -- depending on where you live in Canada.
These findings are part of new study released today by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. The Early Childhood Education Report 2017 is the third assessment to identify gaps and progress in the provision of early childhood services across Canada.
Other highlights include:
- Quebec devotes 4.4 percent of budgeted spending to early education and child care. Ontario spends 3.3 percent. Other jurisdictions target 2 percent or less.
- 3 out of 4 preschoolers attend an early childhood program in Quebec; 1 in 3 participate in Newfoundland.
- There are 1-million child care spaces across Canada. More than half are for profit.
- Per child spending on early years programs in schools is three times higher to average than spending on child care.
- Over 95 per cent of 5-year-olds and 40 per cent of 4-year-olds receive their early education in schools.
- Full day kindergarten is offered in nine out of 13 jurisdictions.
Released every three years, the report evaluates the quality of Canada's early years services against a 15-point scale. Results are populated from detailed profiles compiled by the researchers and reviewed by provincial and territorial officials. Researchers and officials co-determine the points assigned.
For the first time Prince Edward Island topped Quebec for the number one spot with 11 points out of 15. The lowest score, at five points, is from Nunavut. The average score is eight.
Provinces in Atlantic and Central Canada scored higher than those in the West and North. Most improved is Newfoundland, which started out in 2011 with only 1.5 points; jumping to 8.5 in 2017.
Across Canada the number of child care spaces increased by 150,000 since the last report in 2014. However expansion efforts are impeded by the shortage of early childhood educators.
The Canada-wide tally doesn't include the first installment of Ottawa's $7.5 billion due to start flowing in 2018 as part of a 10-year agreement to improve access to early education.
Six of 13 jurisdictions have signed bilateral agreements with the federal government; a necessary condition to accessing the first round of funding. The next Early Childhood Education Report, due for release in 2020, will capture the results.
SOURCE Atkinson Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto
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