Senate report on early learning and child care in Canada

Following the release of the OECD report Starting Strong II (Sept 2006) the Senate of Canada requested its Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to examine the state of early learning and child care in Canada and report on the finding of the OECD that found Canada last in industrialized nations in terms of their funding and commitment to supporting the early years of children in Canada. is pleased that the April 2009 Senate Report, Early Childhood Education and Care: Next Steps examined the importance of high quality early learning and care for newcomer families and young children, however briefly, including:

  • A paragraph on pg. 61 on “Immigrants and Refugees” about the child care component of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program.
  • In the section on accessibility, it is recognized that: “immigrant children may experience additional barriers if local child care programming is not culturally relevant or delivered in a familiar language“.

The committee made several recommendations in its report, including that the Prime Minister appoint a Minister of State of Children and Youth; that the Minister for Human Resources and Social Development appoint a National Advisory Council on Children, to advise the Minister of State for Children and Youth and through the Minister of State, other Ministers on how best to support parents and to advance quality early learning and child care (calling for the Council to include Parliamentarians, a range of stakeholders, parents and appropriate representation from Aboriginal communities). hopes that, should the Government of Canada respond favourably and strike a Council that it will ensure that immigrant and refugee children’s interests will be addressed and that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism serve on the Council. And, given Minister Kenney’s recent remarks on the need for increased attention to immigrant children, we’ve little doubt to the importance of his inclusion.¬†
The Government of Canada, through the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, must respond to the Senate report within 150 days of the tabling of the report. Watch this space for responses.