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Kevin, the Globe and Mail article that quoted you saying intelligent and sensible things also interviewed a number of parents. Most of them said that all day kindergarten was going to make their child care arrangements much simpler.

And we know that low cost, high quality and readily available child care increases female labour force participation (the evidence on that is not exaggerated).

Isn't that what all day kindergarten is all about?

Yes but so what?

A targeted program for poor children, like the US HeadStart program, will always suffer poor funding and weak political support. For a program to be popular and politically stable, it has to be universal. And that does mean spending money on middle- and upper-income children.

tyronen - if the parents of poor children are working night shifts and weekends, will all day kindergarten help with their childcare needs?

All-day kindergarten is not about child care. It is about education.

Not many day cares issue report cards, or follow a provincial curriculum, or have teachers with education degrees.

The evidence is fairly strong that low-income children are much less likely to have solid preschool skills - the alphabet, numbers, reciting a story, counting, shapes, colours etc - before they start Grade 1. What starts out as a narrow gap in Grade 1 ends up as the difference between a McJob and a professional career by adulthood.

Full-day kindergarten is an attempt to narrow that gap. If it does that, it is a success. If it doesn't, it is a failure.

I think you're missing Kevin's point. No-one seems to dispute the benefits to at-risk children. But that's not the same thing as saying that universal full-day kindergarten is a good idea.

"All-day kindergarten is not about child care. It is about education."

Tyronen, the benefits of all-day kindergarten in terms of a more educated, better socialized population will not be realized for about 20 years.

If you think that a government will spend millions of dollars today solely in order to generate benefits 20 years from now - when they are no longer in office - you are much less cynical about governments than I am.

I live in BC and haven't figured out the politics of this one. It's early in the BC Liberals' 3rd term, so I don't see this move to full-day K as something to get votes. The government's argument is that this pays off 20 years into the future. But, like Kevin, I'm skeptical as to whether the majority of children doing full day K this year instead of half day K will be significantly better off at age 23 because of it.

Maybe the expected impact is a form of indirect stimulus: More immediately, child care costs for these middle income families just went down substantially. My childcare bill has dropped $700/month with my son entering (full-day) Kindergarten. Multiply that times all the students and that's a lot of extra money in the local economy.

Anyone know if the BC gov't is expecting a one-time economic boost?

My gut feeling is that this is a tempest in a teapot. I can imagine it might be better for some kids with lousy parents or crappy home situations. For everyone else it probably doesn't matter all that much.

Then the opportunity cost may be pretty high. Maybe there are better things that could be done with that money.

Hi Frances,

Yes, I would expect a fairly big boost in female labour force participation. We certainly saw that in Quebec with the introduction of their childcare initiatives.

One could certainly ask if this is the right way to provide childcare subsidies, but I don't have a problem with the claim that FDK will increase female labour supply. My problem is with the claims of huge long run benefits for non-at risk kids.

Interestingly, in an interview, Premier McGuinty addresses one of my concerns head on. http://tgam.ca/xYR

He claims that around a quarter of kids have 'vulnerabilities' and many of those come from high income families.

Fine enough. He can have whatever definition of 'vulnerability' he likes. But if he is going to rely on the Perry Preschool result, he has to use the Perry Preschool definition, which includes the 70-85 IQ criteria.


careful: you may have $700/month more to spend, but someone else is out a lot of tax dollars, so I don't think I would do the math your way.

The economic gain, as Frances suggests, comes from the change in behaviour--more market work by women. This is a real gain.

If the purpose of all day kindergarten is to provide child care then the school system is a terrible place to do it. The labour force is unionized, making it expensive. The hours are short and inflexible with summers off and pro-D days. In BC schools cost 7 or 8 thousand per child so the move to full day is costing around $3500 per child. Moreover there is lots of evidence that starting school early is detrimental to some populations of children. The BC program is supposed to be play based, but based on what I saw with my kids kindergarten today looks like the grade one of 45 years ago. Pushing immature children into formal schooling before they are ready turns 5 year olds into problem kids who need testing and medication.


Fair enough. Given demand for daycare greatly exceeds supply, this sudden "double entry" of kids into full day school opens up more daycare spaces for younger kids, so I guess we should expect to see an increase in the labour force participation rate, or more home based business revenue, as parents who previously couldn't find good childcare now have options.

Wouldn't this be a one time boost though, that we should be able to measure? Where do we end up seeing it? Labour Force Survey? Does the CRA track home-based-business revenue?

@Stephen: Yeah. Off the top of my head I think it probably works out to be a giveaway to the already well-off. I'm probably somewhat representative of that: We have a 3 yr old, both work, household income is on the right side of the median for AB, and the boy goes to daycare already, which costs many thousands of dollars a year. If he goes to half day K in a couple of years, then we'll have to arrange care for about 3.5 hours in the PM because of the way our schedules work out. Big hassle. More expense. But if the state gives us a nice gift of all day K ... I'll take it of course, but it just means we'll take a nicer vacation or maybe save a little more. Hardly a big win for general welfare.

I am glad it is being reported that there is no evidence that all day K will produce benefits for children.

This non-benefit/harm includes low income or disadvantaged kids: RAND Corporation data and Heckman show that the only programs that provided long term benefits to underprivileged were those that involved mothers only, or mothers as well as kids.
NONE of those programs had a goal of getting the mums into jobs (read LOW WAGE McJOBS).

Now, could we take a pause on the idea that all day K may be "good " because it will result in more mothers "working" ? - by which you actually mean " NOT doing the work of child care/education for their own children but doing instead paid jobs of any type at any wage and whatever hours whether that is what they would do or not if their was a level playing field field financially for mothers' and child care choice".

The Milligan/ Baker/Gruber study of Quebec daycare outcomes found that mothers 'labour force participation' there went up 7 percentage points - as I recall. The study reported numerous negative family/child outcomes. I am sure those mothers' unwaged family and community work went down - a "negative externality" that has not been counted tho' RAND says cost-benefit analysis must "Measure all costs."

Frances Woolley has reported with others that over 70% of Que families were worse off financially when that program was implemented because the Child Tax Benefit and other financial supports were taken from families and handed to the daycare system.

QUESTION: did those Que mothers get jobs as a choice or to make up for the loss of income?

Question: does anyone care about mothers' choices - or parents'?

Question: Do you consider child care/education work provided by parents to be NOT "work" and not worthy of EQUAL funding as that done by daycare staff/teachers etc? Equitable financing would make the state neutral in these decisions.

If we're worried about education, I hardly think that fussing over half day versus full day K is going to get us a big win. And if we're worried about poverty or gender equity, I hardly think that half a day for 8 or 9 months in at age 5 is going to make much of difference in either the caregivers life or the kids life.

Rule #1 of politics: When you suck distract everyone with an inflammatory, polarizing, and ultimately irrelevant issue and hope the electorate doesn't notice you're incompetent.

"When you suck distract everyone with an inflammatory, polarizing, and ultimately irrelevant issue and hope the electorate doesn't notice you're incompetent."

You just described the Republicans' only strategy. AAAHHHH mosque at Ground Zero!!!!

Anyway, OT digression....

I'm in BC and like the commenter above, cannot figure out the libs game plan with this. It may be the same as the HST -- complacency breeds inept political strategy. The libs have picked a major fight with the Vancouver School Board over funding, at a time when the VSB can make all sorts of noise about major policy shifts like full day kindergarten that are unfunded by the province. And Board budgets are complicated enough that it's hard to know if either side's rhetoric about what is fully funded is at all accurate. No one, least of all the education minister, comes off smelling like a rose. And like the HST, the benefits are completely undersold, or perhaps not even well understood.

There are a number of points to make, so I'll be (relatively) brief:

Canada has consistently been criticized by the OECD Early-Childhood researchers for lack of regulated spaces for children. Canada ranked last among 14 member countries for spending on early childhood education and care (ECEC).

Regarding all-day Kindergarten, there are clear benefits for at-risk children (educationally or SES disadvantaged), and although the results are mixed for the rest of the population, generally one observes positive behavioural and academic outcomes (see, for example, Clarke and Kirk, 'All Day Kindergarten': Childhood Education, no.76, 2000).

As for the economic claims: every program that has ever been proposed by anyone is expected to make some claim that it will save money, or not cost much money. A platitude, yes, but a good one to remember. The financial cost of the 'Truth in Sentencing Act' is expected to cost either an additional $2 billion over five years (current cost of correctional funding: $4.4 billion/year), or rise to a total cost of $9.5 Billion by 2015/16. Do you believe the Conservatives, or the PBO? Or are the figures simply used as a justification for an ideological and politically motivated program?

I wish we had more than all-day Kindergarten. I wish we had subsidized care programs that were regulated by the government. I wish we had a plan for early-childhood education. While your provinces argue over the merits of all-day Kindergarten, I get told by our (Alberta's) Finance Minister that she thinks it's best when kids are raised at home!

It is small wonder the birthrate is stagnant or declining. You want an economic claim? Having a child will cost your family $10,000 a year in care. This excludes clothing, transportation, the time you take off work when they are sick, additional programs, etc. Save some money and perform a world of good: go out and adopt a five-year old (six-year old in Alberta).

Some responses:

James T: I agree that the economic arguments may be a (feeble) attempt to 'play the game' by justifying things using economic criteria, no matter how stretched. I think you'd find me equally as skeptical about great economic claims about sports stadia, military planes, or anything else that stretches economic credulity. And, yes, I'd take the PBO's numbers.

On the BC politics: In the absence of expanding KG, how many schools/classrooms/teachers would be idle? There is serious declining enrollment in this province so I wonder how much that had to do with the decision.

Patrick: This program is pretty good for me personally. I will save childcare hassle next year with my youngest. I will benefit more than I have to pay in extra tax. But I am an above median earner, so I don't know how much I would advocate policy that helps people like me.

Appreciate economists being open and honest here. However, to me it’s more evidence that your profession has a complete corporate/government bias. As such, the “economic gain” (not “real gain” more ideal gains, as I see it) of more market work by women appears as rotten economics: the Selling Point is a bill of goods and craps on all 5 yr olds. Invest on improving the quality of the time spent now in kindergarten for economical education; not increase the quantity of poor quality kindergarten all day.

Kindergarten means ‘children’s garden’. Do that. Don’t tie them down to a desk with a pencil pushing paper. Further, believe that “at risk“ children are, in the main, deficient in skills and defective socially. Positively, socialize them first with ‘gardens’, then develop skills.

IQ tests are narrow-minded higher left hemisphere testing: don’t belong in any elementary setting. Piaget’s 4 models for child development are still good to understand why. Multiple Intelligence indicators are adequate enough and provide a good broad map of what intelligences are weak and what is strong. I’d use the strong ones to develop the weak ones.

I could teach kindergarten teachers, but not a class of 30 5 yr olds with an attention span of about 20 minutes. I’d be bonkers in a week. The average kindergarten student teacher used to spend about 3 hrs prep for 1 hr teaching (experienced teachers about 1-1; now?). I don’t know of any harder job.

All day? They’d be too tired in the afternoon for effective education. The teacher would burn out in no time if she tried to be truly effective.

To end on a positive note from Yates who concludes his poem “Among School Children” (notice: 00 and double truth embodied)
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?


Excellent point about declining enrollment and idle teachers. Other than in Surrey, there is plenty of room in the buildings to add a class or two. Adding and funding full day K also allows the BCLiberals to talk about how they're spending more on education than ever (which would otherwise be hard to do in a situation of declining enrollment and fiscal constraints). The BC NDP seems a little lost on how to fight this one as it is popular with many of their constituents (unions, east vancouver working parents, etc.)

Another wrinkle in this: In Vancouver at least (if not much of BC), "at risk" children were already eligible for full-day-K before this year. All the schools in my area of East Van had a full day program for ESL, low income and aboriginal students. So this new program isn't aimed at helping them, it has to be about something else.

James T: you mention the OECD and it's 'review' and ranking of Canada:

"Canada has consistently been criticized by the OECD Early-Childhood researchers for lack of regulated spaces for children. Canada ranked last among 14 member countries for spending on early childhood education and care (ECEC)."

The oft-cited "dead last" ranking of Canada's expenditure on 'ECEC' was based on erroneous data that left out all but expenditure on Kindergarten
See Shawn Tupper's presentation to the Senate

The OECD's Child Care Unit is in no way an objective body. It is made up of individuals ideologically/philosophically committed to less parental control of child care and more state-control of child rearing.

This is Mahon (see below) on the OECD's ECE Unit's ideology:

"Part of the hope may lie…in countries where 'the long default position of the child located in the private sphere of the family is being disturbed by some glimmerings of the "public child", replete with voice, rights and citizenship' (2004: 211). Yet this 'new child' will need allies which might be found, inter alia, in recharged feminist and trade union movements."

One of Canada's top daycare lobbyist, Martha Friendly , has worked for the OECD ECE Unit. A UK colleague she has published was on the OECD Review - Helen Penn. Friendly herself co-authored the OECD's Review "Background Report" and was thanked by Team leader John Bennett for her work in the team's "Canada Country Note" report. But Bennett and Friendly publicly covered up her role in the Review process in letters to the National Post. see

Rianne Mahon , Carleton sociology prof and daycare consultant, explains the situation in a paper published by Friendly (The OECD and the reconciliation agenda: Competing blueprints

"The [OECD's] ECEC unit's perspective represents more of a challenge to the status quo. It is not as well-placed as the family-friendly unit in DELSA, however. It reports to a smaller, more narrowly focused (education) Directorate….Its potential strength comes from the way it structured the review process. It carried out its work in such a way as to draw in and develop a transnational network of early childhood specialists and advocates."

"It thus blurred the boundary between epistemic communities, made up of experts linked by cognitive and professional ties (Haas, 1992), and transnational advocacy networks—"networks of activists, distinguishable largely by the centrality of principled ideas or values in motivating their formation."

"In this it has built on, and extended, the earlier work of the European Commission's Childcare Network [of which Martha Friendly's associate Helen Penn is a leader - she was on the OECD's Canada Review Team]. Just as the latter forged links among child care advocates operating at different scales—local and national—adding the European, the ECEC branch has done the same across the OECD."

"Its success, of course, will depend on the capacity of advocates to make good use of these reports in their struggles."

She also writes about the OECD's ECE Unit's policy goals:

is "an active participant in the push to eliminate the last vestiges of maternalism."

"counsels the rejection of maternalism in favour of supports for the new dual earner (or lone parent earner) family."

"counsels the establishment of an ECEC system that would offer quality care to all children, irrespective of the labour market status of their parents."

rejects "neo-familialism's long [maternity and parental] leaves… as destructive of mothers' human capital and weakening their labour market attachment."

* "Countries are encouraged to move to individual, rather than family, taxation."

* For lone parents "The 'welfare to work' orientation is to be embraced by all."

@Helen: Good grief. I guess Nick is right. It really is all in the framing. How, for example, would pentocostal churches around the world not qualify as a "transnational advocacy network", with all it's conspiratorial and pejorative implications.

You obviously have a point of view and are therefore not 'objective'. As a consequence, should I also dismiss out of hand any and all of your arguments?

And it hardly helps your case to claim that the OECD of all organization is out to "eliminate the last vestiges of maternalism". It just makes you sound like a conspiracy theory kook.

Hi Patrick

The 'conspiracy' comments you mention are not mine (maybe the quotation marks didn't show up for you?) but are from the paper I mention published by Martha Friendly's org (www.childcarecanada.org) written by Carleton prof Rianne Mahon. ie
The OECD and the reconciliation agenda: Competing blueprints

Mahon is describing/analyzing the OECD ECEC Unit's work. She is supportive of that work.

Can the last word go to my 5 year old son and new full-day Kindergartener?

In the car yesterday he suddenly said to me: "I like Kindergarten better than pre-school." "Why?" I asked.

"Because it goes all day and I like things that go all day."

Hello All,
I am a former grade one teacher and the founder of KINDERGARTEN CREDIT, an Ontario group working to halt the roll-out of All-day Kindergarten in our province. I was quoted in the September 7 Globe and Mail article on All-day Kindergarten just before Kevin Milligan whose name I gave to the Globe reporter. Hello Kevin.

BC readers should be aware of two things about Ontario’s situation:
• it encompasses both Junior and Senior Kindergarten, which means many children are as young as 3 heading into All-day schooling
• that in addition to this new de facto ‘no-choice’ program, the McGuinty government has – through Bill 242 – restricted non-profit school based daycares from providing care to 4 and 5 year olds.

This is a complete top-down re-working of early childhood education in Ontario. It would take away or drastically reduce every choice parents currently enjoy and replace it with a universal, dangerously mono-culture landscape.
The only silver lining is that McGuinty has unwittingly seemed to put an end to the fabled ‘Mommy Wars’ as our organization encompasses both mothers in the paid labour force and those in the unpaid labour force – all are upset that McGuinty has steamrollered over the thriving choices they as parents are making in the best interests OF THEIR OWN CHILDREN.

(Regarding diversity and choice: Wendy I think we need to hear other ‘last comments’ because Sociology 101 tells us that we can’t extrapolate from our own lives to assume that everyone else’s are the same: while your son may like, benefit from and thrive on All-day Kindergarten, many, many children don’t. We too often will ourselves to believe that kids’ words and actions of protest are due to ‘immaturity’. And sadly, as both the Swedes point out and the quote from Michael Reist on our homepage states, most often we don’t see ill effects until adolescence when it is too late to go back and undo the damage.

We talk too often in theoretical and euphemistic terms about this issue. Here are some missing specifics:

RATIOS – With the stroke of a pen, the Ontario government has moved every 4 and 5 year old from healthy mandated ratios to ones that, well, do not exist. Unlike Ontario’s Day Nursery Act which outlaws more than 8 children being cared for and educated by 1 adult, these new ‘programs’ are now under the Education Act which does not specify maximum group size or ratios. The ‘suggested averages’ are 26 but it turns out – as was predicted – there are as many as 30 kids being found in one classroom. There is only one teacher and one assistant which means that one adult is in charge of all these kids with the assistant ‘helping’, unlike daycares where each adult is responsible for their own group. And, for the 88% of Ontario’s youngsters not currently in daycare centres (42% in homecare settings and 46% exclusively in parental care) these new ratios will be drastically worse than the current maximum 5 kids per adult that are now the law.
While size matters to some men, ratios matter to all little kids. This new regime means no visits to Farmers’ Markets, no visits to the local park, the museum, the local coffee shop, the community library, to anything outside the confines of the classroom – which both kids at home and kids in daycares currently and frequently participate in. Just as food activist Michael Pollan writes that we shouldn’t eat anything our great-great-grandmothers wouldn’t recognize as food, we shouldn’t have our kids in any kind of ‘program’ (a telling word) that our own mothers wouldn’t recognize as ‘early education’. Up until the last generation this has meant very, very low numbers of children ‘attached’ to one ‘vested’ adult who was simply ‘with their children’ as they went about their daily tasks. A lost world perhaps but one that we continue to lose at our own peril. (And for all those naysayers who doubt that low SES moms can do as good a job as ‘trained teachers’, check out the peer-reviewed research indicating otherwise.)

TRAINING – I have taught beside some brilliant Kindergarten teachers but Mothers, Fathers and, by law, ECEs have more training than Kindergarten teachers. Please see this article I wrote for the Hamilton Spectator addressing the issue:

MOTHERS’ PAID WORKFORCE PARTICIPATION – Helen Ward is an internationally recognized expert on the issue of mothers labour force participation as driven by coercive childcare policies. If you doubt her, please read for yourself the OECD articles and ‘other’ – many others – posted on the http://www.kidsfirstcanada.org/ site.

CREATIVE ECONOMICS – One of the impetuses for this PROGRAM is to grow the economy: coercing more mothers into the low-paid workforce, retrain and hire laid off workers as ECEs (Liberal press release, September 15), etc. While the McGuinty government shamelessly uses our kids to engage in this ‘creative accounting’, I would suggest some creative accounting of our own. GIVE THE MONEY TO PARENTS and so that it shows up in official records of ‘economic growth’, instead of calling it ‘social transfers’ which do not show up in GDP records, set up parents as their own little businesses who receive money from the state.

We need to keep this dialogue going – the more we talk, the more we can come to a place where we have public policy that actually works for families, women and particularly for children – the people who have been the least heard from in this whole (non) educational debacle.

Kate Tennier – Toronto

I happened interested in this issue and did some research about human capital formation and cost-benefit arguments for these programs.
Regarding the issue of how "risk" is being defined in the argument that kids'
human capital will be improved by all day kindergarten : I contacted Dr
Magdalena Janus who invented the measure - the Early Development Instrument EDI
- which is used to say that 25-30% of kids are "vulnerable" or "at risk" to ask
for some clarification. Here is the email exchange. It looks like there are very
different ways to count this.

Dear Dr. Juans:

.....I am doing some researches for early education.
According to the media, right now about 30% of children are developmentally vulnerable at school entry age. This was reported in the Province newspaper recently and other media from time to time.
I came across the Offord Centre EDI website. And the web page says 1 in 20 - about 5% of children are not ready to learn at school.
I understand you Dr. Janus developed the EDI. Could you help me with my research by explaining the difference between the 5% on your website and the approximately 30% reported in the media. Perhaps there are different methods for doing the calculations ? If you're quoting from other sources would you send me the link or the information about the study? please and thank you.

Reply from Dr. Juans:
The nearly 30% of children refers to populatio-based data on vulnerabilities in one or more domains as measured by the EDI scores. For the 2008 natinal cohort, this value was 25.5%. In order for a child to be counted in this group, they must have scored within the lowest, nationally-based 10th percentile on one or more of the 5 EDI domains.

The 5% of children is the number of those who have multiple challenges. Having a “challenge” in one of the 16 subdomains of the EDI is based on the child’s abilities; and children who have a “challenge” on 9 or more of those are classified as having “multiple challenges”. In the 2008 SK cohort the exact percentage was 4.2%.

Being “not ready to learn at school” is based on the multiple challenges (subdomains). “Vulnerability” reports are based on domain scores. Vulnerability as a term implies a risk rather than definite problem, while “being not ready” indicates existence of a problem.

Check the 2008 cohort report; it may clear things up.



it is quite interesting to read.

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