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UNICEF’s report card on Early Childhood Education and Care [PDF] program ranks Canada at the bottom.

In light of the unprecedented financial turmoil and the rapidly slowing Canadian and world economies, Canadian families have to be protected.

The report states that OECD countries on average spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on ECEC, while UNICEF recommends that at least one per cent should be spent.

In Canada, the Harper government can’t even keep up with the OECD average, spending less than 0.3 per cent of the GDP on ECEC – most of which is being spent in Quebec. Meanwhile the rest of Canada continues to wait for adequate child care funding. Since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, the expansion of child care spaces has dropped to its lowest level in years.

Canadians are facing a time of economic trouble. And they need to have access to efficient tools to help them face the reality. Child care programs make us more competitive by investing in our knowledge-base. It yields high economic and social returns while supporting and stimulating the women’s workforce participation and keeping the families out of poverty.

Strong early childhood education and care contributes to a strong economy.

We urgently need to see an increase in federal funding for public child care, and this investment should definitely be part of an economic package presented to stimulate Canada’s economy,” said CUPE President Paul Moist.

CUPE will keep lobbying the federal government to establish a pan-Canadian non-profit, affordable high quality child care program.