Parents, grandparents and workers from across Canada ascended Parliament Hill on November 20—the United Nations-designated Universal Children’s Day—in search of child care champions.
The child care advocates met with Members of Parliament and Senators from all parties to share their first-hand accounts of the child care crisis in Canada, where licensed child care is difficult to find, mismatched to community needs, unaffordable and suffering a workforce crisis.
Presently, licensed child care spaces are difficult to find for many families and there is often a lack of services for Indigenous children and kids with special needs. Even when parents are lucky enough to find a spot, however, it costs them on average 25 per cent of their household income—much higher than in countries with proper systems of early childhood education. Worse yet, the child care workforce is in crisis, characterized by low wages, poor retention rates, and obstacles to training and recruitment that stand in the way of quality.
Child care advocates on the Hill asked MPs and Senators to become child care champions by committing to play a positive role in building a publicly-funded and managed system of child care for Canada. This includes supporting more and better-directed federal spending on child care over the next decade. Currently, Canada spends about 0.3% of GDP on child care, far short of the widely-accepted international benchmark of 1%.
It is now well-established by a wide range of research that investments in early childhood education return major benefits, including greater economic growth, higher tax revenues to fund public services, and reduced inequality.
Child care advocates envision a properly funded not-for-profit system that:
gives parents across Canada access to affordable, high quality and appropriate child care when they need it;
provides educational and culturally-relevant programs;
ensures those working in early childhood education are properly compensated and better supported so that recruitment and retention of a trained workforce is possible;
makes it possible for parents, particularly mothers, to stay in the paid labour force if they choose to.
Follow the search for child care champions on Twitter: #ChildCareChampion
Participating organizations: Child Care Now, Oxfam Canada, Campaign 2000, Canadian Federation of University Women.