Canada has been the lag of the world when it comes to spending on childhood education in the early years. A recent report from the nation’s Conference Board suggests that this fact will end up costing Canada’s economy later on.

In research published last Thursday, the organization argued that with each dollar spent for early childhood programs in education, the Canadian economy receives around $6 in economic benefits back later on.

Advanced Starts

These programs not only give children an advanced start, they also free parents up to continue working and supplement the household income as well.

“The science is unquestioning,” Craig Alexander, the chief economist of the group and an author of the new report said. “There’s clear evidence that kids develop better and stronger essential skills.”

“We can basically show that this does act to reduce income inequality.”

Currently, the nation’s public education system begins at about six years of age, however “an awful lot of brain development happens in the early years before five,” Alexander said.

Lately, changes to the policies regarding parental leave will allow parents to get off of work for around the first year and a half, however between this period and school age, “we have a gap where parents are left to their own.”

Family Benefits

Programs funded by public means help Canadians reach the average for children between the ages of two and four years old, and would aid around 134,000 Canadian households. If Canada were to jump to join the leaders in early education, they would need a boost to around 400,000.

A key thing to consider, Alexander said, is that these programs have to be significantly education-focused — not only child-minding.

“Many people see investments in early childhood education as glorified babysitting,” said Alexander. “But we’re not talking about kids sitting in school rooms. We’re talking about play-based learning.”