Stop tinkering and build an Early Learning and Child Care system: CCPA-NS

Current patchwork, market-based approach is failing province and families
May 14, 2015

HALIFAX – Nova Sco­tia's market-based, patchwork approach to Early Learning and Child Care is not working for families is the central message in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS)'s submission to the province's Regulated Child Care Review.

According to Dr. Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director, CCPA, "There is overwhelming evidence about the problems with our current approach, and about the best way forward. We have to get serious and invest to build a seamless public system."

An ELCC system is the most efficient way to ensure affordable, reliable, quality care for Nova Scotia families. "This system must address the triple market failure of high fees, low wages, and lack of regulated, centre-based spaces," says Dr. Tammy Findlay, an associate professor at Mount Saint Vincent University.

"A substantial portion of public funding for ELCC is currently distributed through subsidies based on family eligibility, but they aren't a solution to the problem," says Findlay. "Subsidies guarantee neither more spaces nor lower costs. Early learning should be funded like the elementary and secondary school systems, which would guarantee a space to any family who needs one. We are currently spending ten times more on school-age children than early learners."

Saulnier also makes the point that: "Our provincial government allocates only 1% of the budget to the early years, which amounts to spending 0.24% of GDP on our most vulnerable community members, at the most important time of their lives. And this, despite the evidence that a significant investment-at least 1% of GDP-is needed to ensure healthy early childhood development. In addition, this investment creates jobs, fosters labour market participation and a skilled workforce, increases productivity, boosts GDP and tax revenue, reduces poverty and income inequality, advances women's equality and social inclusion, as well as addresses population decline."

The CCPA-NS submission outlines what the existence of a reliable, publicly funded child care system would mean: parents wouldn't have to worry about the affordable and quality of child care available, and will not have to rely on the exploitation of an almost all-female, low-paid, but highly-skilled and educated workforce to ensure that their children are cared for appropriately. The CCPA-NS recommends that the first step towards building a system is to develop an action and investment plan with concrete targets and timelines through meaningful collaboration with the child care community.


The report can be downloaded free at:

For interviews and more information, contact Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director, CCPA, 902-240-0926, [email protected]