Kindergarten for 5-year-olds is Canada’s only universal early years program and the only preschool program most children will experience. Although voluntary in all jurisdictions with the exception of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, 95 percent of eligible children across the country attend. The Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Ontario, Québec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland all offer full-day kindergarten, meeting the needs of 75 percent of Canadian 5-year-olds. The other provinces and Nunavut provide part-day programs.
Percentage Enrolled in School-Operated ECE Programs
Over 125,000 children in Ontario attend full-day junior kindergarten for 4-year-olds. The 2017 school year opened with junior kindergarten being offered in all elementary schools in the Northwest Territories, and marked the first year of a province-wide rollout of pre-primary in Nova Scotia. Schools in Whitehorse, in the Yukon offer full day preschool, and, Québec is expanding its full-day 4-year-old program in low-income communities.Access to at least part-time programs is available for preschoolers in vulnerable circumstances in Saskatchewan and Alberta and nursery school is widely available in Manitoba. In addition, many schools in British Columbia and Ontario offer daily part-time, parent/child drop-in activities. In 2016, 40 percent of 4-year olds attended a no fee, school-provided preschool program. ECE in schools accounts for much of the increase in ECE participation and builds on the infrastructure that exists in public education.Regulated child care has also grown to over 1 million spaces, an increase of 150,000 spaces since 2014. Ontario accounts for most of the new spaces.
Change in Number of Regulated Child Care Spaces by Province/Territory
ECER 2017 estimates that 54 percent of children aged 2–4 years attend an early childhood education program, up slightly from the 51 percent reported in ECER 2014. This includes those participating in school-operated prekindergarten and parent/child drop-in programs, licensed child care and Aboriginal Head Start. Participation is estimated. Service providers collect data in different ways: schools count enrolment; child care is counted in spaces; and parent/child programs tally registrations. Not all child care spaces may be occupied and attendance systems for drop-in programs are sometimes unable to determine if a child participates every day or once a month.
Percentage of 2-4 Year Olds Regularly Attending an ECE Program by Province/Territory
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