The pandemic laid bare the longstanding crisis in Canada’s child care system.
Canadian families – especially women and single mothers – already struggle to pay rising child care fees and find high-quality care for their children.
The situation worsened when child care centres suddenly closed because of COVID-19, and women were all too often forced to leave their jobs to care for their children. Even after they reopened, reduced capacity at most child care centres meant that families had a hard time finding licensed spaces.
That’s why it’s so important for PSAC members and Canadians to support parties that will continue to build and fund a universal, accessible and affordable child care system that reduces fees, creates more child care spots, helps women return to work and provide fair wages to chronically underpaid early childhood educators.
Canadians deserve affordable, accessible, high-quality child care
Canada’s next government needs to follow through on the $34 billion commitment to build a publicly funded Canada-wide system of universally accessible, high quality, affordable and inclusive early learning and child care.
The $10 a day early learning and child care plan announced in the 2021 budget will drastically slash child care costs for families across the country and fund the creation of new quality child care spaces, provide culturally appropriate care for Indigenous communities, and expand accessibility for children with disabilities. It will also help ensure child care workers — overwhelmingly women and often Black and racialized — receive better wages.
The government should also continue to negotiate child care funding agreements with provinces and territories and respect the child care agreements already reached.
Conservatives have no plan for fixing the child care crisis
Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives have said they will immediately scrap the establishment of a national child care system and have instead pitched a refundable tax credit.
They would also eliminate the existing federal child care expense tax deduction that allows parents to deduct a part of their child care expenses from their taxable income.
This would be devastating for Canadian families.
With this proposal, Conservatives are ignoring the needs of hundreds of thousands of families across the country. They are also at odds with the seven provinces and territories that have already signed child care agreements with the federal government.
The refundable tax credit the Conservatives are proposing is income dependent and capped. Only families with annual incomes below $50,000 would qualify for the maximum credit of $6,000. Everyone else would receive much less.
And the Conservative tax credit does nothing to bring down the high cost of child care. In Vancouver, the median infant child care fee per year is over $13,000; in Calgary it stands at nearly $16,000; and in Toronto it is $21,000. For many women, the option of returning to work would still make little financial sense.
In contrast, under a $10 a day child care system, any family requiring child care would pay around $2,500 per year regardless of the age of their child.
A tax credit would also do nothing to ensure high quality child care, increase licensed spaces, and compensate workers fairly — prolonging the child care crisis.
Canadian families deserve better. Our recovery depends on it.