Child care is something that you don’t realize the importance of until you need it. How it is delivered, managed, funded and administered is not something that concerns most Canadians, unless you have a child in need of care and are trying to find affordable, safe options for your family. Then you realize how limited, fragmented and expensive the options in Canada are for most families.
Canadian governments spend a fraction of the average of other industrialized countries on child care, about one third the OECD average. Our system is also highly unregulated, increasingly private and for-profit, and lacking federal leadership. Shortly after taking power, the Harper Government killed the most significant national child care program to date in Canada and has dramatically reduced funding ever since.
Nurses know the importance of good education and safe staffing while working in a health care system that is publicly financed and publicly delivered. We also know that on a daily basis this system is under attack, both by those who desire for-profit health care based on access tied to ability to pay, and for those politicians who ideologically are opposed to health care. These same ideologically-driven politicians and profit-driven interests are opposed to a National Child Care Program. One that would give our children and families the support they need during those critical early years. On top of it all, investments in child care make sense. A recent study by one of Quebec’s top economists, Pierre Fortin of the Université de Sherbrooke, demonstrated that Quebec’s universal seven-dollar-a-day child care program more than pays for itself. His study showed that for every dollar spent, more than one dollar and five cents was returned through higher tax revenue and lower provincial spending.
All the evidence points to the benefits of giving our children the best possible start during these formative years. Our children deserve better, our families deserve better. The need for action is immediate.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) represents almost 200,000 nurses and student nurses in Canada. We are committed to protecting the health of patients and our public health system.