question period — Employment and Social Development

Universal Child Care and Early Childhood Education

March 30, 2021


[14:56]

Honourable senators, this question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, on March 26, Deloitte Canada released a report entitled Early Learning and Childcare as Key Economic Infrastructure. In this report, Deloitte details why a national, universal and public child care system is a key part of all economic recovery from the pandemic and all long-term economic success.

This is one of many reports that speak to the huge potential impacts of child care and early childhood education — not just on women participating in the workforce but also decreasing our reliance on special needs education by improving children’s behavioural and social skills, and by fostering greater economic equity.

We have seen the positive impacts of child care in Quebec, a province that has been acknowledged as leading the way on this issue. In short, we have so much to gain and very little reason to sit on our hands, as we have been for decades.

My question, Senator Gold, is this: Is this government willing to implement a high-quality, universal child care program linked to an early childhood education system that is an entitlement for all, that is publicly funded and publicly managed?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:57]

Thank you for your question and for raising the important question of the link between early childhood education and support for the well-being, not only of the individuals and their families, but indeed of the country and its social fabric.

The Government of Canada works with the provinces and territories in these areas, which are exclusively within provincial jurisdiction, whether it’s child care — you noted the success of my province of Quebec in that area — or education.

The federal government has and will continue to provide financial support and will work in partnership. However, the call for a national system of child care and education ignores the federal nature of this country and is not something that one should privilege over the cooperation between levels of government, which is an ongoing and happy feature of our system of government.