(Ottawa) – Child benefit payments worth $23.7 billion are given to almost 3.7 million families across the country annually, and yet, Canada has some of the highest child care costs amongst its international peers, leaving families struggling to make ends meet.
A new report by Oxfam Canada, ‘Who cares? Why Canada needs a public child care system’ is being released today as political landscapes across the nation continue to shift and, in provinces like Ontario, battles are erupting over funding cuts to public health and child care programs. The report shows that if Canada does not ensure equal access to affordable child care, progress towards closing the economic gender gap will stall and the country’s economic growth will be stifled. It also points to research that found if the Canadian government reduced child care costs by 40 per cent (which would cost the government $8 billion), it could bring 150,000 stay-at-home mothers with high education levels into the workforce. That shift would equate to raising Canada’s GDP by two per cent or $8 billion, which would pay for other programs that advance gender equality.
“Canada is in a child care crisis. Investing in child care is not only the right thing to do to advance gender equality; it is one of the smartest investments the government can make to ensure Canada is more inclusive, equal and prosperous,” said Diana Sarosi, Manager of Policy for Oxfam Canada.
Along with the report, Child Care Now and a national coalition of allies are launching the Affordable Child Care for All Plan, which offers all federal political parties a roadmap to building a robust public child care system over the next 10 years.
“All federal parties need to recognize the importance of child care in advancing gender equality and generating economic growth by making a commitment to child care in their election platforms,” said Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director for Child Care Now. “We are looking to them to adopt our plan which will solve three big challenges simultaneously – high parent fees, lack of availability, and raising quality by improving the wages and working conditions of those who work in the child care sector without increasing parent fees.”
The national coalition of child care advocates is asking the federal government to:
- Invest $1 billion in 2020 and a further increase of $1 billion each year over 10 years.
- Enact federal legislation enshrining its commitment to child care, similar to what now exists for health care.
- Negotiate Early Learning and Child Care funding agreements with the provinces and territories to support concrete plans (with timetables for expanding not-for-profit early learning and child care services; setting and reducing parent fees while increasing direct operational funding of services; and developing and implementing a workforce strategy to address staff training, recruitment and retention).
- Continue to work with Indigenous leaders and communities to operationalize, implement and expand on the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.
“Over the years, the Canadian federal government has taken a demand-side funding approach to early childhood education and care and has left it to the provinces and territories to decide how they spend social transfer payments,” Sarosi said.
“Now the federal government needs to share the responsibility for ensuring all children in Canada – regardless of where they live, their ability, their family circumstances or their culture – have access to affordable, high-quality child care. We all want our children to grow up in an environment that fosters their well-being and development. It’s time for Canada to go the extra mile and make public child care a reality.”
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Notes to editors:
- ‘Public Good or Private Wealth’ report is available here.
- The Affordable Child Care for All Plan can be found here.
- Key national organizations, including Child Care Now, Oxfam Canada, Campaign 2000, the Child Care Resource and Research Unit contributed to the Affordable Child Care for All Plan.
- The Affordable Child Care for All Plan is the culmination of extensive consultations, investigation and evidence-based policy discussions over the past year involving a broad and diverse array of organizations.