The Cost of Inequality and the Role of Early Child Education in Closing the Gap

The Conference Board of Canada, January 18, 2018
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Greater investment in early childhood education (ECE) can be a springboard to success. Expanding ECE in Canada would increase female labour market participation, improve child outcomes (especially for disadvantaged children), and reduce Canada’s income inequality.

Access to ECE helps cultivate a healthy society. Yet Canada spends less on ECE than other countries. Our educational enrolment rate for children aged 2-4 year is 58 per cent, compared to the average of close to 70 per cent in comparable advanced nations. Bringing Canada’s enrolment rate for children aged 2 to 4 up to the average of other nations would put 134,000 more children in ECE programs.

In this free webinar, Craig Alexander will present the findings of Conference Board research on the impact of ECE. The full analysis is published in the Conference Board report, Ready for Life: A Socio-Economic Analysis of Early Childhood Education and Care. Craig will also address the most important dimensions for policy-makers to discuss in order to maximize the benefits of ECE – enrolment rates and the duration that children receive ECE programming.

The bottom line is that investments in play-based high-quality ECE can help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed.

It can also help improve income for low income families and help support women in the labour market. And, it would remove a key source of inequality.

Webinar Highlights

During this webinar, Craig will discuss:

  • Children who receive effective curriculum and play-based early years education develop better cognitive abilities, and math and reading skills, which, in turn, boosts skills development and earnings later in life.
  • ECE can boost female labour participation. If Canada increased ECE rates to the top-performing countries in the OECD, an additional 76,500 women would likely enter the workforce.
  • The introduction of an expanded ECE program would result in about 23,000 families—many of them single-parent families—being lifted out of poverty.
  • Ensuring all Canadian children aged 3–5 have access to full day education would cost an estimated $2 billion in annual operating costs and $1.8 billion in one-time construction costs. However, the long-term benefit could be as high as six dollars for every dollar invested.

About Craig

Photo of Craig AlexanderCraig Alexander brings 20 years of experience in the private sector as an economic and financial forecaster to the position of Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist. Craig oversees the Board’s macroeconomic outlook products and its custom economic and tourism research. He joined The Conference Board of Canada in September 2016.

Most recently, Craig was the Vice-President of Economic Analysis at the CD Howe Institute. Previously, he was Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist for TD Bank Group—the second largest bank in Canada and the eighth largest in the United States. During his tenure, he led a large team of economists providing in-depth analysis to TD’s divisions and clients. Prior to joining the private sector, he spent four years as an economist at Statistics Canada.

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