Situation will worsen in many areas if Conservatives kill $5 billion Liberal program
Ottawa (12 July 2006) - A report by Social Development Canada says all 11 cities included in a new national child care study lack adequate services for children up to the age of 12.
Commissioned by the cities of Toronto and Vancouver, the study examined children's services in St. John's, Halifax, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Toronto, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Whitehorse.
After looking at child care, kindergarten, out-of-school care and recreational programs for children ages six to 12, the researchers concluded that services are greatly inconsistent across the country.
Entitled Learning from Each Other: Early Learning and Child Care Experiences in Canadian Cities, the study concludes that more regional planning is needed, especially when taking into account that more than 70% of mothers with young children now work outside the home.
The percentage of children who have access to licensed child-care spaces varies widely from city to city and province to province.
Montreal ranks the highest with enough spaces for about 45% (thanks mainly to the Quebec government's public child care program). Saskatoon ranks the lowest at 6.9%. Whitehorse had 24.9%. Other cities included Toronto (13.6%), St. John's (14.9%) and Halifax (10.9%).
Across the spectrum, low-income neighbourhoods tended to have the fewest child care services available.
Thumbs down to Harper plan
The study also assessed the child care allowance plan that the new Conservative government is imposing on the country in place of federal-provincial child care agreements negotiated by the former Liberal government with individual provinces.
The conclusion is that inconsistent levels of service will continue to exist across the country if Prime Minister Stephen Harper destroys the $5-billion Liberal plan. The plan has been designed to create 250,000 child care spaces across the country by 2009.
To replace the Liberal program, Harper has instituted $100 a month direct payments to parents per child under the age of six. Poor areas will suffer the most if Harper kills the Liberal plan, the study warns. NUPGE
• Full report: Early learning and child care experience in Canadian cities - pdf