Economist sees child care support as critical for economic recovery

“The issue of child care is this generation’s medicare story, and we’ve got to get it done.” — Armine Yalnizyan

Fredericton (28 May 2020) — Noted economist Armine Yalnizyan spoke out on the importance of child care as part of Canada’s recovery plan during a recent interview on CBC’s The Current radio show. Yalnizyan warned that without more support for child care, women could be disproportionately left out of the recovery.

She-covery key aspect of recovery

She-covery is a term that highlights the importance of getting women back to work and increasing child care support for working parents. “No recovery without a she-covery, no she-covery without child care,” said Yalnizyan.

New Brunswick is facing this dilemma in its current phase of recovery. While daycares have been reopened with specific guidelines in place, there’s been no increase in support. The majority of New Brunswickers had to continue to pay regular monthly daycare fees while the facilities were closed.

With schools remaining closed, many parents are now faced with paying double for child care costs, as after-school care means full-time care and the accompanying rates. This puts a financial strain on many families, especially families with 2 parents working, and more notably, on single-parent families.

New Brunswick provincial aid falls short of helping families

Thus far, New Brunswick has elected to spend the least of any province to help citizens during the pandemic. In an article accompanying her interview on The Current, Yalnizyan spoke of the connection between caregiving and keeping business running:

We have had the veil lifted on what is the essential economy — and what the essential economy is, it is propped up by the caring economy. You can't do it without high-quality care so that you're not worried about “Are your kids going to get sick at school, or is your parent going to die because they're not fed in the long-term care facility?” The longer women are out of the workforce, the longer it will take for them to return.

Pandemic could reverse gains made towards gender equality

Yalnizyan also worries that this recession could reverse decades of hard-earned gains for women in the workforce. And it's not just about jobs. Women also contribute the majority of household purchasing power at 57% of the GDP. Simply put, women's dollars go back into the economy.

"With household spending [hampered] because there's less income coming in, the whole economy slows down," said Yalnizyan.

While there’s an aversion to spending in New Brunswick during this pandemic, people need to consider the realities we’re all facing. We need to make it easier for people, especially women, to return to work or enter the workforce so we can try and revive our economy.

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