“Child care is an issue that affects our entire society. The effects of costly child care are felt most obviously by parents of young children. But grandparents are also affected in that they are spending their golden years babysitting because their children can’t afford to pay for care. Affordable child care should be a priority for all Canadians.” — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (17 June 2019) — Proposed by Child Care Now, a national coalition, the Affordable Child Care for All Plan lays out a sustainable, obtainable road map to affordable child care for all. The plan is clear that the federal government must play a leadership role to ensure that all children in Canada, regardless of where they live, their ability, family circumstances or culture have access to affordable high-quality child care.
Child care for all by 2030
The Affordable Child Care for All Plan takes a long-term, phased approach to building the solid universal child care system Canada needs. The Plan provides for an increase in Canada’s federal early learning and child care (ELCC) budget to $1 billion in 2020, and a further increase of $1 billion each year for 10 years, so as to meet the internationally recommended spending benchmark and achieve the goal of affordable, high-quality, and inclusive child care for all across Canada.
The Affordable Child Care for All Plan focuses on addressing 3 elements simultaneously: accessibility (expanding service availability), making child care affordable, and improving quality.
Strengthening accessibility (expanding availability) means moving away from relying on private initiatives for creating child care services to a planned, public approach. Governments and communities will work together to determine
- where services are needed in urban/suburban/rural/remote communities
- what kinds of services are needed (centres, full/part-day, home child care) and
- for whom (child age groups, language, parent schedules, etc.).
Making childcare affordable
Making ELCC affordable means moving away from relying mostly on parent fees to cover the costs of operating child care services. This shift has 2 parts:
1) Parent fees will be set by provincial/territorial governments at rates ranging from $0 to amounts calculated to be affordable.
2) Public funds, in the form of direct operational funding, will be used to make up the difference between parent fee revenue and the full cost of high-quality, inclusive child care.
Improving quality means fixing child care sector workforce issues to improve the quality of child care and to allow service expansion. Under the plan, federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together, and with Indigenous communities and the child care sector, to develop a comprehensive strategy to develop and implement a workforce strategy.
This will include specific measures and timetables to address remuneration, educational requirements, training, recruitment and retention of early childhood educators and others who work in the sector. All such measures will help in bringing about pay equity for the mostly female child care workforce.
Child Care Now calls on the federal government to enact the Affordable Child Care for All Plan by taking the following steps, all of which fall within federal jurisdiction:
- Negotiate provincial/territorial child care agreements with solid implementation plans and timetables, and make federal transfer payments conditional on agreements being met
- Enact federal child care legislation that enshrines Canada’s commitment to public child care, and sets out the principles and conditions for ELCC federal transfer payments similar to the Canada Health Act
- Establish a federal child care secretariat or branch within the federal government to facilitate collaboration with provinces/territories, the Indigenous Peoples, experts and stakeholders, and to coordinate ELCC initiatives such as a workforce strategy, a data/research strategy and innovation
- Establish a national data and research strategy to inform evidence-based policy development
- Reinstate the funding for community stakeholders/researchers/experts/advocates to strengthen the capacity of the child care sector to support affordable, high-quality, inclusive child care services that are responsive to the needs of parents, children, and communities.
NUPGE supports a universal, affordable, inclusive, high-quality child care program
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) supports a national child care program that is publicly delivered, affordable and accessible to those who need it. To replace the patchwork system that currently exists, a national program would require long-term predictable funding in order to provide essential support families require.
Ballermann says, "A national program like this helps parents and their children, and it creates stable jobs for people in the community. It also means having highly trained and experienced workers in the field with good wages that will spur economic activity at the community level. It will also help the national economy thrive, as more women would be able to return to work without seeing their wages eaten up by high child care costs."
This plan was developed by Child Care Now through extensive consultations with a wide array of organizations and individuals concerned with the well-being of children, gender equality, the economic security of families, as well as social inclusion and equity. All parties share the common goal of building a child care system in Canada that is responsive to the needs of children and families, is affordable, and that will allow for Canada’s economy to grow for the benefit of all.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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