"We hope you agree that now is the time to make a universal public child care system a reality in Canada." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (16 Nov. 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is reiterating its call on the federal government for a national child care system that is universally accessible and publicly funded.
Larry Brown, President of NUPGE, has written a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland. Brown’s letter builds on the concerns and recommendations previously brought forward by NUPGE and its Components, including how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new urgency to the need for a national child care system.
No recovery without she-covery
The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women is now well documented. Women’s labour force participation dramatically declined, as many women reduced their hours, or left their jobs entirely, to care for children, undoing the gains of recent decades.
Early childhood educators and child care staff, the majority of which are women, have been faced with the enormous challenge of continuing to provide safe and nurturing environments for children amidst a pandemic, on top of financial and workforce concerns, according to a survey of child care providers.
In this context, Brown echoed the growing calls for a she-covery. As economist Armine Yalnizyan has, now famously, said: “No recovery without she-covery. No she-covery without child care.”
Canada needs a national child care system
Brown wrote: “The evidence has long been clear: child care provides an enriching environment for children, enables working parents, especially women, to participate in the workforce, and contributes to a strong economy overall. A well-funded system would provide fair compensation to its professional workforce.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the value of child care clearer than ever. Child care will be essential to the economic and social recovery — and, specifically, to a she-covery. While child care is not solely a women’s issue, a universal public child care system would make a valuable contribution to advancing gender equity.
A national system must be public, universal
NUPGE welcomed the federal government’s commitment to a national child care system announced in the Speech from the Throne.
Brown urged Minister Freeland to deliver on this commitment in the upcoming federal budget. “NUPGE believes,” wrote Brown, “that a national child care system must be universally accessible, publicly funded, not-for-profit, and high quality. It must meaningfully support its workforce, which means fair compensation, training, recruitment, and retention.”
Offering a roadmap
Brown called on Minister Freeland “to implement federal funding transfers to the provinces and territories and, working with Indigenous communities and the child care sector, develop common national standards towards a universal public child care system, similar to Canada’s health care system.”
In his letter, Brown pointed to the Strategy for Recovery developed by Canada’s national child care organizations (Child Care Now). The strategy, which has been widely endorsed by experts and leaders in various sectors, offers a roadmap to invest in child care as core to the post-pandemic she-covery and to build towards a universal public system.
The federal government is faced with an immense opportunity and responsibility. Brown urged: "We hope you agree that now is the time to make a universal public child care system a reality in Canada."
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