As the country reopens and people get back to work, PSAC members, like many other Canadians, are worried about the care of their children. To ensure the country is recovering from the pandemic, families need access to publicly funded, affordable, high-quality, and inclusive child care. In a recent letter to the government we urged the President of the Treasury Board to secure the investments needed in early learning and child care, and support the building of the pan-Canadian child care system that the federal government promised in the 2019 election campaign.
Currently, there are enough regulated child care spaces in Canada for just 27% of children under the age of twelve. When parents can’t find licensed child care, they are forced to rely on family, friends and other unregulated services with no guarantee of reliability or quality. When families are fortunate enough to find licensed child care, it can cost them nearly a quarter of their take-home pay. This is true for all parents in Canada, including parents who work in the federal public service. It is a deplorable situation made much worse by COVID-19.
It is no secret that women across Canada are dealing with the serious ramifications of COVID-19. According to Statistics Canada, in March nearly 300,000 women between the ages of 25-54 lost their jobs. The closure of schools and daycares created additional hurdles for many women because women, more than men, have been forced to limit their working hours or give up work altogether to care for children. The pandemic has brought gender inequalities to the surface and amplified them. A lack of accessible, affordable and safe child care spaces means that child care and other family caregiving duties fall back on women, which impedes their ability to return to work, and limits their financial independence. This has been further compounded for women from marginalized communities such as women living with disabilities, racialized women, Black women, Indigenous women, lesbians, bisexuals, trans and non-binary people, senior women, immigrant women and more.
PSAC is asking the federal government to:
support the child care recovery strategy advanced by Child Care Now and other national child care organizations;
increase its emergency support for the child care sector by $2 billion immediately so that programs can safely reopen;
set out in the Speech of the Throne its intention to make good on the Liberal Party of Canada’s election pledge to start building a pan-Canadian system of child care. This will require a further $2 billion annual allocation for childcare in the next fiscal year, and an additional $2 billion each year thereafter until Canada has succeeded in putting in place affordable, inclusive, high quality child care for all parents who want and need it.
Now is the time for the federal government to lay out and fund a plan for universally accessible high quality child care for children from the ages of 0-12. All in Canada will benefit. It is the key to getting Canada working again.