The Starting Strong (OECD, 2006) analysis identified key elements of successful policy that were common to 20 member countries who took part in the OECD’s review of their early education and care systems. The ECE Report is rooted in the recommendations of the OECD review. Not all of the 17 major policy areas addressed by the OECD in its Canada note are included in the ECE Report. In some important areas, such as the affordability of ECE services, consistent data are not available across Canada. In past editions, insufficient data prevented the inclusion of Yukon, Nunavut and First Nations. Following a cross-Canadian roundtable in June 2016, with commitment from all provinces and territories, this present iteration was able to include all Canadian jurisdictions; however, insufficient data continue to prevent the inclusion of programs in First Nations communities. The authors need to address this ongoing challenge.While being guided by the OECD directions, the selection of benchmarks was limited by the availability of consistent data across Canadian jurisdictions and the likelihood that similar information would be available in the future to allow for ongoing monitoring. Benchmark thresholds were influenced by those established by UNICEF in 2008 to promote the potential for continued international comparisons, and those included in the UNESCO 2010 cross-national study on the integration of early childhood education and care (Kaga, Bennett & Moss, 2010). In adapting the ECE Report to Canadian reality, all benchmark thresholds in the report have been achieved in at least one jurisdiction. The authors recognize there is always sensitivity to monitoring and reluctance to make comparisons. Canada is a very large and highly diverse country; however, in the development of other levels of education from elementary through to postsecondary, a remarkable similarity has emerged based on shared values and research. Arm’s length assessments are part of democratic oversight; they allow the sharing of best practices and push for better systems to improve outcomes for children. A parallel rationale exists for early childhood education. Indeed, all provinces and territories already agree on a number of comparable inputs to promote program quality, including the need for staff qualifications, child/staff ratios, group size and facility safety.
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