Early childhood education needs to change
As the province’s economy continues to boom, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians agree on at least one thing - our riches should be shared, and I mean riches in the broadest sense of the word.
Recently, I attended a symposium organized by the Jimmy Pratt Foundation on the future of child care in our province.
I had the distinct pleasure of hearing two noted Canadian economists speak about the economic case for expanding early childhood education and care (ECE) – Craig Alexander from Ontario, who works for TD Bank and professor Pierre Fortin from Laval University in Quebec.
These two experts (the banker was the biggest surprise to me) made a rock-solid case for dramatically overhauling our current hodgepodge system.
Of course early childhood education and care is good for the economy. Heck, it’s even good for capitalism, they argued.
Still not convinced? Alexander, who holds the lofty title of senior vice-president and chief economist TD Bank Group, told us that ECE is the key ingredient for essential skills training and development of our workforce. My new banker friend also pitched the value of childcare as an inequality reduction strategy.
Here’s the problem currently facing Newfoundland and Labrador, though. Given the high rate of commercialization in the childcare sector here, most experts will tell you that a publicly funded and delivered system without all levels of government involved and invested will ultimately falter.
The good news is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Let’s look at what P.E.I and Quebec have done to radically overhaul their systems, including the gradual phasing out of for-profit centres.
Ensuring high quality, reliable, affordable, public child care that meets the needs of our workforce is something this government could deliver if it wanted to.