Child care victory: Government announces commitment to national system

PSAC welcomes the Trudeau government’s commitment to building a national early learning and child care (ELCC) system announced in the Throne Speech.  

The government’s decision to “make a significant, long-term, sustained investment” towards a Canada-wide ELCC follows years of advocacy by PSAC, the broader labour movement and child care organizations. The plan will support millions of families across the country, promote a strong economic recovery and help prevent the pandemic from taking away the economic and social gains women have made over the last thirty years.

The union has provided the government with clear guidance on moving forward, including: 

  • supporting the child care recovery strategy advanced by Child Care Now and other national child care organizations;  

  • increasing emergency support for the child care sector by $2 billion immediately so that programs can safely reopen; and 

  • making a further $2 billion annual allocation for child care 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. 

“For decades, our union has been at the forefront of the movement to advance child care in Canada,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward. “The promises set out in the Throne Speech are hard-won by our members and we look forward to seeing the full details of the government’s commitment in the forthcoming budget.” 

Here is a brief overview of PSAC’s long history of work in support of child care. With each victory, both big and small, our union has moved Canada closer towards realizing a universal child care system. 

  • 1980s-1990s: With women at the forefront, tens of thousands of PSAC members launch a major strike in 1980 against Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government that leads to groundbreaking paid maternity leave benefits, protecting mothers’ income while caring for their infants.  These benefits eventually expand to include paid leave for both parents and full salary replacement for one year. 

  • 1989-1991: PSAC reaches an agreement with Treasury Board that a policy will be developed to encourage the establishment of workplace child care centres, open to both PSAC members as well as the general public. 

  • 1999: The union negotiates a special Child Care Fund to help members at Canada Post address their child care needs. 

  • 2004-2014: PSAC supports Fiona Johnstone, a member at the Canada Border Services Agency who requested accommodation for child care but was denied. In 2014, after a decade-long battle with her employer, the Federal Court of Appeals upheld a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that CBSA discriminated against Johnstone by failing to accommodate her family obligations related to child care. The precedent-setting Tribunal ruling must now be followed by all large employers in Canada. 

  • 2005: After more than a decade of advocacy by PSAC, the broader labour movement and women’s organizations, the federal government signs a series of child care funding agreements with provinces and territories, opening the way for a national child care system. A year later, however, the newly elected Harper Conservative government cancels all agreements. 

  • 2010-2020: In collaboration with other unions and child care organizations, PSAC ramps up advocacy in support of a publicly funded, national child care system. Campaigns include ‘Let’s Rethink Child Care!’, ‘Child Care 2020’, ‘You can’t take your kids to work’, and 'Affordable Child Care for ALL'. Each involves intensive lobbying of federal politicians


September 24, 2020