Thank you for the invitation to speak with you this afternoon on behalf of Child Care Now, Canada’s childcare advocacy association.
Our organization serves as a national voice for a large, diverse and growing group of individuals and organizations who want high quality, affordable, inclusive early learning and child care for all families, all children in Canada.
Last year, we drafted the Affordable Child Care for All Plan, which has been endorsed by a Canada-wide coalition of more than 100 groups representing parents, early childhood educators, advocates of children’s rights, anti-poverty groups, women’s organizations, and many others.
Three of the four national parties in the 2019 federal election made explicit commitments consistent with our Affordable Child Care for All Plan. The majority of Canadian voters supported these parties. Now, we urge the House of Commons Finance Committee to recommend that childcare be made a priority in the next budget.
An ambitious, evidence-based federal childcare policy supported by proper levels of federal funding can:
- advance reconciliation by supporting the implementation and expansion of Indigenous early learning and childcare;
- grow the economy by making it possible for parents with young children—especially mothers–to join the workforce or return to it after parental leave;
- help address the climate emergency through investments in local, green childcare facilities and through the creation of green jobs in early childhood education; and
- redress inequality by ensuring that all children, women and families have equal access to high quality, inclusive childcare.
We were gratified that the Liberal government re-engaged in childcare following the 2015 election. We welcomed the multi-year funding commitment for early learning and childcare in the 2017 federal budget, and the negotiation of a multilateral agreement on early learning and childcare. However, the federal government must do more.
First, we want the Government of Canada to increase its spending on child are by an additional $1 billion each year over 10 years to meet international benchmarks. We recognize and applaud the Liberal promise to fund the creation of 250,000 new childcare spaces for school-age children. But we need to see also additional funds for the creation of more affordable infant, toddler and preschool childcare in order to address the desperate shortage of supply.
Second, we want the federal government to negotiate bilateral funding agreements with the provinces and territories—agreements that will simultaneously:
- raise the quality of childcare by lifting up the wages, working conditions and education of the childcare workforce;
- increase access by substantially increasing the supply of high quality, inclusive, flexible licensed childcare for all age groups, using a publicly-planned and managed approach;
- make childcare affordable for parents by providing direct operating funding to services.
Third, we want legislation that enshrines Canada’s commitment to childcare with an entitlement for all children. The legislation should set out the principles, conditions and accountability mechanisms for federal transfer payments to provinces and territories similar to the Canada Health Act.
Fourth, we ask the federal government to deliver on its election promise to establish and fund a federal childcare Secretariat to lead and coordinate the federal government’s childcare work.
Fifth, we ask that the federal government continue to fund and support the implementation of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework to ensure that all Indigenous children have access to spiritually enriching, culturally relevant, high quality childcare.