We must invest more in child care

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Dear Editor: As the province’s economy continues to boom, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians agree on at least one thing — our riches should be shared, and I mean riches in the broadest sense of the word.

Recently, I attended a symposium organized by the Jimmy Pratt Foundation on the future of child care in our province.

I had the distinct pleasure of hearing two noted Canadian economists speak about the economic case for expanding early childhood education and care (ECEC): Craig Alexander from Ontario who works for TD Bank, the other from Laval University in Quebec, Professor Pierre Fortin.

These two experts (the banker was the biggest surprise to me) made a rock solid case for dramatically overhauling our current hodge-podge system.

Of course early childhood education and care is good for the economy.  Heck, it’s even good for capitalism, they argued.

Still not convinced? Mr. Alexander, who holds the lofty title of senior vp and chief economist TD Bank Group, told us that ECE is the key ingredient for essential skills training and development of our workforce.

My new banker friend also pitched the value of child care as an inequality reduction strategy.

Here’s the problem currently facing Newfoundland and Labrador, though.

Given the high rate of commercialization in the child care sector here, most experts will tell you that a publicly-funded and delivered system without all levels of government involved and invested will ultimately falter.

The good news is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Let’s look at what P.E.I. and Quebec have done to radically overhaul their systems, including the gradual phasing out for-profit centres.

Ensuring high quality, reliable, affordable, public child care that meets the needs of our workforce is something this government could deliver, if it wanted to.

Wayne Lucas, president, CUPE NL

Organizations: TD Bank Group, Dear Editor, Jimmy Pratt Foundation Laval University

Geographic location: Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador P.E.I.

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