Women need to be able to go to work knowing their children are safe and well cared for, but most families are struggling to find and pay for the child care they need.
Child care is about economic justice for women
Put simply, access to quality, affordable child care is about economic justice for women. More women in Canada are working than ever before, and 70 percent of kids under five have moms working outside the home. Child care makes it possible for women to get a decent job, support their families, build a career, and further their education or skills training.
The crisis is real
Right now, there are only enough regulated child care spaces for about 25 percent of kids in Canada under five. At the same time, the cost of those limited spaces is astronomical. Our child care costs are among the highest in the world. On average, single parents spend 32 percent of their income on child care – that’s often more than what they spend on housing.
Finding child care is even harder for parents with infants or children with special needs, and for those living in Northern, Indigenous or rural communities. Options for parents working shift or non-standard hours are almost nonexistent. In addition, because racialized and immigrant women are more likely to be stuck in low-wage, part-time and precarious jobs, high child care costs and lack of spaces leave them with even fewer choices.
We can fix the child care crisis
We can fix this crisis. The federal government has established a new framework on early learning and child care with their provincial and territorial counterparts. Now we need it to commit to increasing what it spends on child care – over time – until it reaches at least one percent of GDP, the international benchmark on child care spending used by the OECD, UNICEF, and other international bodies.
Sufficiently funding child care makes economic sense. We already know that Quebec’s investment in child care has more than paid for itself through the increased income tax revenues generated by more parents – especially moms – being able to go to work.
Let’s get this right
We need the federal government to step up and work with the provinces and territories to make sure that child care funding goes to building a system of high quality, affordable and inclusive child care for all families. We need new federal legislation that would make sure provinces and territories use child care funding to meet specific objectives.
- It needs to be universal. Every family should have access to licensed child care.
- It needs to be affordable. That requires sufficient funding for licensed facilities and agencies, and ensuring fees are capped and regulated.
- It needs to be public and high quality. “Big box”, for-profit child care is not the answer. We need public, licensed child care with quality staff including qualified early childhood educators. A federally supported and coordinated workforce strategy would improve the qualifications, wages and working conditions for child care educators and staff.
- It needs to be inclusive. We need to meet the diverse needs of children with physical or mental disabilities, and ensure it’s offered in languages and cultures that reflect the needs of Canadian communities.
Canada’s unions have long fought for child care for all families because we know that women need to be able to go to work knowing their kids are safe and well cared for.
You or someone you know – a friend, a relative, a colleague – is struggling to find and pay for child care. To fix the child care crisis, we need to make it universal, make it affordable, and make it happen. If you’re done waiting, add your voice to the call.