The next federal budget must make child care a priority, Morna Ballantyne told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance at its pre-budget consultations, Feb 6.
While noting the Liberal government’s election promise to develop a pan-Canadian child care program, CCNow’s executive director urged the government to move to action with the following measures:
- An additional $1billion per year on child care for the next ten years. This extra funding is needed to reach international benchmarks on access to and quality of child care.
- Negotiate bilateral funding agreements with the provinces and territories to improve the quality of child care by raising wages and improving working conditions, increase access to child care by increasing the number of available spaces for all age groups and provide direct operating funding to child care services to make child care affordable
- Legislation to enshrine Canada’s commitment to child care in a similar fashion to the Canada Health Act.
- Fund a federal child care secretariat to lead the government’s child care work as promised during the last federal election
- Continue to fund and support the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework to ensure that all indigenous children have access to high quality, culturally relevant child care.
Ballantyne told the committee that the 2017 federal budget’s commitment to early learning and child care, and the multilateral agreement on child care were encouraging, but more is required to make real progress.
Also, Ballantyne said it would not be enough to provide additional funding for only school-age child care, as set out in the Prime Minister’s ministerial mandate letters, because the gap between the supply and demand for infant, toddler and pre-school child care is greatest, and parent fees for those age groups are the least affordable.
The federal budget is expected in mid-March.