New study shows universal child care would help Canada’s economy recover from the pandemic

PSAC welcomes new research from the Centre for Future Work that spells out how universal, affordable and accessible child care can drive Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The study shows that the economic benefits of building a national early learning and child care (ELCC) system far outweigh the costs.

The study bolsters PSAC’s calls for a Canada-wide ELCC system and strongly supports the Trudeau government’s recent commitment to “make a significant, long-term, sustained investment” towards a Canada-wide ELCC as part of a post-pandemic economic recovery plan. 

The study shows that a universal ELCC program phased in over 10 years would: 

  • create over 200,000 jobs in regulated child care centres; 

  • produce an additional 80,000 jobs in industries that would support expanded child care, such as construction and renovation; 

  • increase Canadian GDP by between $63 and $107 billion

  • generate an additional $17 to $29 billion in tax revenues for federal and provincial governments—more than enough to cover the costs of publicly-funded universal child care. 

Expanded child care would realize these massive economic benefits in part by creating a ramp for up to 725,000 more women to join the paid labour force.  

The report also notes the lifetime health and economic well-being of children who participate in ELCC programs. There is significant evidence that high quality early childhood education can improve cognitive and social skills, and lead to better health, which in turn can reduce government spending on health care and social support systems. Research shows that access to high quality child care is particularly beneficial for children from lower-income and racialized families who now have less access to programs.

“Our union has been at the forefront of the struggle for a universal child care system for decades, and it’s encouraging to see that the stars finally seem to be lining up,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “In short, what we’ve always said — and what this new study confirms — is that a national early learning and child care system will more than pay for itself.” 

Canadians currently incur some the highest child care costs in the world according to a ranking by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  

“Canada has a lot of ground to make up when it comes to child care,” added Aylward. “Investing in a universal, affordable child care system is the best way to ensure an equitable economic recovery after the pandemic.” 


November 25, 2020