Child care survey reveals pandemic impacts, what's needed for reopening

Providers underlined the need for appropriate financial and staffing resources in order to reopen facilities safely.

Ottawa (16 June 2020) — The results of a national survey of child care providers, conducted by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, the Canadian Child Care Federation, and Child Care Now, were released this week.

The findings reveal important insights into the experiences of child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as their concerns and their visions for the future.

Providers hit hard by the pandemic

Access to early learning and child care (ELCC) for parents — especially those deemed essential workers — became a high-profile issue during the pandemic. A number of providers remained open for the children of essential service workers, a service often deemed emergency child care. But this is only part of the picture.

The national survey results reveal the full extent of the impact on the sector.

According to the survey, nearly 75% of regulated child care centres were forced to close due to the pandemic. Approximately 40% of regulated family child care providers had to close. Although some provincial governments continued their funding, a majority of child care centres surveyed said they received less funding than they did pre-pandemic.

Like these closures, the impact on early childhood educators and other child care workers may not have been seen by the broader public. According to the survey, employees were laid off in 70% of child care centres due to the pandemic.

The need for more resources is clearer than ever

Providers also underlined the need for appropriate financial and staffing resources in order to reopen facilities safely. Government funding will be crucial to supporting ELCC without raising the financial burden on parents, and to ensure fair compensation for workers, the majority of whom are women.

The results reinforce the need for a long-term plan for the sector. The 3 national organizations who conducted the survey have developed a plan to sustain ELCC through the pandemic.

As the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has previously argued, the value of ELCC has been made clearer than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time to give this long underfunded, undervalued sector the recognition it deserves — including the necessary resources — through the pandemic and beyond.

The complete survey results and related materials can be found on the Childcare Resource and Research Unit website.

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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