Canada has one of the lowest child care access rates in the industrialized world and fees are among the highest.
Ottawa (23 April 2009) – The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has released a new leaflet entitled Our kids gotta come first. The leaflet stresses the need for a universal early learning and child care program in Canada. Research shows that access to quality early learning and child care enhances children’s development in every way – intellectually, physically, emotionally and linguistically.
Despite this evidence, in the past five years, two international reports have identified Canada’s lack of action on child care. In 2004, the OECD ranked Canada last among developed countries in terms of access to early learning and child care spaces and last in terms of public investment.
In December 2008, the UNICEF report card on child care showed Canada as tied for last with Ireland. Canada achieved only one of the 10 performance benchmarks.
Canada has one of the lowest child care access rates in the industrialized world and fees are among the highest. Yet, the Harper Conservative government refuses to address the issue. In 2006, the Harper government cancelled the bilateral agreements with the provinces, thereby eliminating the $5 billion that was slated over five years to establish an early childhood education and care program.
Canadians have spoken out in recent polls with 76% stating the lack of affordable child care is a serious problem and by a ratio of two to one stating they prefer a national child care system to the Harper government’s $100 monthly subsidy.
As the economic crisis deepens and Canadian families experience job losses, access to child care is even more imperative as parents seek to further their education, train for work and find employment.
As well, an early learning and child care program creates jobs and economic activity at the community level as the majority of child care dollars are spent locally and invested in people since the sector is labour intensive. It is estimated that it would cost 1% of Canada’s GDP to provide quality care and education to children who need it.
If a universal early learning and child care program would help stimulate the economy at such a small cost, why are we waiting? After all, “Our kids gotta come first”!
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.