Call for a National Child Care Strategy

Wednesday, December 14 2011

CFUW calls on the Government of Canada to legislate to provide funding for “quality, universal, accessible and accountable childcare and early learning”. CFUW calls on Canada’s legislators to create a real early-childhood education and childcare program.

A high-quality national childcare program would allow women, who remain at home with their children, because they lack access to quality care, to enter the workforce. Such an economic stimulus is much needed. It pays to invest in social infrastructure at times of marketplace downturn.

Canada ranks at rock bottom amongst the 30 developed countries of the world in childcare and early learning services. It does poorly when it comes to overall spending on families and children in the areas of childhood care and education services. An investment in quality early-childhood care and education can significantly improve the future well-being of families.

In 2004, the federal government committed $5 billion dollars over five years to provide access to high-quality, government-regulated spaces at an affordable cost to parents. Agreements between federal and provincial/ territorial governments were signed. When the government changed in January 2006, the new government introduced a program of a $100 per month taxable payment to families, committed $250 million in transfer payments to provinces and territories, and tax credits for businesses to create new childcare spaces in the workplace. This program has done little to increase the availability and quality of childcare services.

In the province of Quebec women’s participation in the labour force increased by 7 percent as a direct result of its universal childcare programs. This can lift many families’ incomes above the poverty line, result in increased tax collection for government and decreased in use of social service benefits. Women with less than high school education reaped greatest benefits.

In Canada, at least 70 per cent of children under six have non-parental care. Yet Canada's early childhood education and child care system is a patchwork of policies and programs. Canada’s children and their parents have a right to quality childhood care and to a real and equitable strategy for early childhood education.

In 1973, 40 percent of mothers with young children were in the paid workforce. By 2006, that percentage had climbed to 80 percent. The cost of childcare to these families was 5 percent of the family income in two-parent families but it rises to 15 percent of family income for single- parent families.

The recent Speech from the Throne provided no further leadership toward a national childcare strategy that will raise standards, availability and care for our children. With current economic challenges, families will rely more than ever on childcare services. Canadians need a government willing to invest in children by eliminating barriers to accessing and providing quality childcare. CFUW calls on all levels of government to work collaboratively to make it happen.

It is important at this time of economic uncertainty to commit to creating a systematically and thoughtfully planned, accessible, monitored and evaluated framework for delivering childcare. Early childhood education is an investment in the development of children and the social and public health benefits make it a sound use of tax dollars. Such a system will free up parents wishing to enter the workforce.

Action:

Contact your local MP to ask that this becomes part of the agenda in the new Parliament.
 

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