With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario


BACKGROUNDER – Highlights of the Full Day Learning Plan

With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario
Charles E. Pascal, Special Advisor on Early Learning

Highlights of the Full Day Learning Plan

  • A single program would be in place, with a single child-focused curriculum, planned and delivered by a qualified team of educators using common space and resources.
  • Families would have the option of enrolling their 4- and 5-year-olds for the full school day or half day. Extended-day options would also be provided, funded by parent fees.
  • Certified teachers and early childhood educators working together would complement each other’s skills and give every child a better early learning experience.
  • What happens to children after the bell rings is also important – by affordable, extended-day and summer programming for children to 12 years old the education system will be strengthened even further.
  • Schools as hubs for child and family programming would contribute to better outcomes for children and stronger communities.
  • Integrating early learning into a single program would result in savings for parents compared with the cost of traditional licensed child care for 4- to 12-year-olds.
  • Best Start Child and Family Centres would be formed by consolidating many existing early childhood services into one-stop access for families that include flexible child care, parenting information and resources, play groups, intervention supports for children with special challenges, and links to community agencies.
  • Municipalities would provide local leadership for programs for children under 4. School boards would provide local leadership for children from 4 to 12 years old. Provincial leadership would be consolidated under the Ministry of Education.
  • The first phase of implementation would include new opportunities for children living in low-income neighbourhoods – and province-wide implementation of full day learning within three years will benefit all children.
  • Incremental costs to implement the full day learning plan are estimated at under $1 billion.
  • A longer-term goal is to extend parental leave and benefits to allow parents to spend more time with their babies and to reduce the need for expensive infant care.


  • Research shows that children enrolled in full-day learning are better prepared for Grade 1, do better in elementary school, and are more likely to graduate high school.
  • One in four Ontario children arrives in Grade 1 with vulnerabilities (social, emotional, physical) and/or learning difficulties. Full-day learning can help identify and address learning problems earlier, avoiding costly and less-effective interventions later.


Responses to the report and plan

Ontario’s Plan Applauded for Supporting Healthy Children AND Working Families
Media release from CCAAC
June 15, 2009

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — (Marketwire – June 15, 2009) – The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC) applauds the report called “With our Best Future in Mind – Implementing Early Learning in Ontario.” The recommendations made in this report, if implemented, will ensure that the provincial government meets its commitment to integrate early learning and child care programs across Ontario for 4 and 5 year olds. Authored by Charles Pascal, the Premier’s Special Advisor on Early Learning, the report reflects research, international evidence and family needs – all of which support universal access to quality programs that provide both part-time and full-time choices for parents.

“We commend the Ontario plan for ending two ‘false divides’ often created by governments when it comes to early learning and child care,” states Susan Harney of the CCAAC. “The plan recognizes what parents already know – ‘good child care educates’ and ‘good education cares’.”

Pascal’s recommendations end the traditional divide between education and care, integrating early learning and care into one seamless program. The plan also recognizes that we don’t need to choose between social and economic benefits, between short and long-term impacts, between meeting the needs of children or their working parents. Pascal’s comprehensive recommendations end the false divide between these benefits and impacts, showing that early learning and care programs provide benefits for children, families, communities AND our economy both now AND into the future….

Read the complete release


Early Learning Advisor’s Recommendations Would Benefit Families and Municipalities
Media release from Association of Municipalities of Ontario

TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ – The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) today welcomed the release of the report of the Early Learning and Child Care Advisor Charles Pascal.

“AMO looks forward to reviewing the report in detail and to learning more about the Province’s response to the report’s recommendations,” said AMO President Peter Hume.

The report calls for a new provincially funded, school-based system of early learning and child care for four and five year olds. Children under four years of age would continue to be served in the municipally managed system. By removing four and five year olds from the municipal system, the existing resources in that system would be used to better serve children under four, with the hope of increasing access to child care for families with young children.

“A strong early learning and child care system supports a strong and competitive economy. This report calls on the province to make a significant investment in our children and in Ontario’s future prosperity,” said Hume.

The report calls municipalities, “leaders among leaders”, recognizing the need for municipalities to manage and deliver the early learning and child care system for children under the age of four. It also recommends that municipalities have a key role in working with school boards and other partners in the community to develop an integrated early years and child care system for all children in Ontario.

The report contains 20 recommendations for the transformation of early learning and child care in Ontario, many with significant implications for municipalities. Understanding these implications more fully in conjunction with the province’s commitment to investing needed additional resources will ultimately determine the municipal sector’s support for the proposed changes.

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments. AMO supports strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.


Betting on the kids
Globe and Mail
Ken Battle; Sherri Torjman, President and vice-president, Caledon Institute of Social Policy
June 17, 2009

Some of Canada’s social programs perform well internationally – public pensions and child benefits come to mind – but we fare miserably when it comes to early learning and child care (Early Is Not Everything – editorial, June 16). Among 25 OECD countries surveyed recently by Unicef, Canada ranked last (along with Ireland) on a set of internationally applicable benchmarks for early childhood care and education.

Most Canadian parents are in the work force, and have to cobble together bits and pieces of child care and early learning for their children. Decades of research and effort on the part of parents, experts and advocates have finally become accepted wisdom: Early learning and child care are crucial to Canada’s social and economic health.

High-quality early learning and child-care services are not just social policy – they’re also core elements of economic policy because they invest in the critical first years of human capital development and enable parents to work or study.

The Pascal report has drawn a bold new architecture for early learning and child care in Ontario. We hope it will spread to other provinces.