Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP on early childhood education services (0 to 6 years) in selected OECD countries, 2004

More recent OECD reports do not include Canadian data.

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from OECD. Starting Strong II: Early Childhood Education and Care. 2006. -accessed July 25, 2015.

According to a survey conducted by the OECD, in 2004, Canada invested 0.25% of GDP in early childhood education services.

That compared to 2% in Denmark and 1.7% in Sweden and Norway.


There are many benefits to investing in early childhood education –  both to children and families and to society at large.

The economy of the country benefits – not only from the contribution of mothers working but also longer term through the development of healthy, productive Canadians.1

“Local governments often play a key role in financing, and sometimes provide childcare services. This spending is recorded in Nordic countries, but in some other (often federal) countries, it is not properly captured in the data and it is much more difficult to get a good view of public support for childcare across such countries. This is because local governments may use different funding streams to finance childcare services, for example, non-earmarked general block-grants, as in Canada.”1

Investment in early childhood education results in better physical and mental health for children and families, less dependency among families on the social welfare system, less engagement among youth in the criminal justice system; and better integration and progression of children, especially those at risk, in the education system over all.2

1PF3.1: Public spending on childcare and early education. OECD – Social Policy Division – Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. 2016. -accessed July 31, 2017.
2OECD. Starting Strong II: Early Childhood Education and Care. 2006. -accessed July 24, 2017.