'The decrease in provincial budget funding for child care is most likely a result of the Harper Conservative government’s 2006 cancellation of the bilateral agreements.'
Ottawa (18 Sept. 2009) – A report released this week reveals that organized Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services across Canada are in short supply. It notes that regulated child care services were often too costly for ordinary families or not of sufficient quality to be considered "developmental."
Produced by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit (CRRU), and entitled Early childhood education and care in Canada 2008, the report states that services like public kindergarten are not sensitive to the labour force needs of parents and are available only to a minority of preschool-aged children.
The report tracks spaces, finances, quality issues and public policy developments at the provincial, territorial and federal levels. It found that no region of Canada provides a system of well-designed, integrated and adequately funded ECEC services.
Fewer than 20%
The findings show that 77% of working mothers had children aged three to five in 2007. Yet there were child care spaces for fewer than 20% of children in this age group.
A total of 29,791 new child care spaces were added in 2007-08, a significant drop from the average of 50,831 new spots which were created between 2001 and 2004. Of the new spaces created, 25% were for-profit. This is up from the 21% created two years ago. In six of the nine provinces, more than half the growth in spaces was for-profit.
Funding for child care services through federal transfer funds in 2007-08 was $600 million, down from $950 million in 2006-07 and $725 million in 2005-06. Growth in total provincial and territorial child care budgets increased by just $147.3 million between 2005 and 2008.
This is substantially lower than budget increases of $538.3 million from 2004 to 2006 and $512.1 million from 2002 to 2004.
The decrease in provincial budget funding for child care is most likely a result of the Harper Conservative government’s 2006 cancellation of the bilateral agreements with the provinces which would have provided $5 billion for the creation of national early childhood education and care program.
The facts are telling
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has campaigned for many years for the creation of a universal, affordable and high quality early childhood education and care program in Canada.
Responding to this most recent report, James Clancy, national president of the 340,000-member union, stated, “Once again, we have facts that show that the Harper Conservative government’s plan for early learning and child care in this country is a failure.
“In Canada, parents are placing their unborn children on waiting lists to ensure they can get a spot when they return to work. Child care fees in Canada are among the highest in the world. Yet the Conservative government persists in refusing to establish a universal, affordable, high-quality program for the children of this country," he said.
“As Canadians struggle with the effects of the recession, now more than ever, we need to create an ECEC program to help struggling parents seek further education, train for work and to ensure that their children are receiving the quality early learning that enhances their development.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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