(This article is submitted by NUPGE)
The dire state of child care in Canada is finally finding its way into the media. The Globe and Mail is running an in-depth six-part series on child care. As well, it is conducting an on line poll asking “Based on your experience, are you happy with the availability and cost of daycare in Canada?” The paper has also collected hundreds of responses to its online request for child care stories – nightmare costs, conflicting schedules and inventive solutions.
Online poll tells the difficult story of child care in Canada
The responses reflect the reality of the child care situation in Canada. Parents are too often paying more in child care costs than for their mortgage or rent. In previous generations, parents saved for their child’s university education. Now parents are being forced to save for child care. Waiting lists for a child care space are years long and far too often parents must take what they can find whether they are happy with the care or not.
Far too often the issue of child care is seen by the public as a private issue to be dealt with by parents only. However, as one of the Globe and Mail’s articles points out, the lack of child care spaces and the high cost of child care is creating strain and stress on families which effects businesses, our economy and our next generation of skilled labour. Experts agree that a universal high-quality early learning and child care program reduces poverty, boosts the birth rate, provides economic benefits and most of all benefits our children.
Experts agree universal high-quality early learning and child care programs have positive impacts
Quebec’s $7 per day child care program is proof of the benefits. In its first decade of the program, the province has seen a 22 per cent increase in women’s participation in the work force, the number of single parents on welfare cut in half and their after-tax income increased by 81 per cent on average. A recent study estimates that for every dollar the Quebec government has spent on the program it has recouped $1.05 (the result of a reduction in tax transfers and welfare payments as well as the increase in tax paid).
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), through its Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues, has been highlighting the stresses women face balancing their work responsibilities with their family responsibilities including caregiving responsibilities such as child care and elder care. And as a result of the economic crisis and the ensuing austerity measures, these caregiving responsibilities are increasing as public services are cut and as income inequality grows in Canada.
Through NUPGE’s initiative Women 4 Change, it is working to ensure that public policies change and issues such as child care, elder care and social services become a priority for all level of government. Women 4 Change is part of the National Union’s All Together Now! campaign which highlights the importance of public services, good jobs, tax fairness and labour rights. The campaign is also drawing attention to the alarming growth of income inequality and the resulting negative effects on our society.
The issue of child care must be put back on the government’s agenda and be an issue of the next federal election. The National Union has joined with other Canadian unions and childcare advocates to highlight the issue and provide parents with opportunity to share their stories.
We encourage you to visit Rethink Child Care and tell your story.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada’s largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE