Canadian economy threatened by lack of national childcare plan, group says

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press, CKNW news on line

TORONTO – Canada’s economy will suffer without a national childcare policy, a women’s advocacy group warns in a new report.

The lack of accessible, affordable childcare is keeping women from fully participating in the workforce, according to a report by YWCA Canada to be released Monday.

Paulette Senior, the organization’s CEO, said the current system ignores the progress women have made in education and employment over the past 30 years.

The federal government “is acting as if women are still at home” instead of providing support for working mothers, Senior said Sunday.

“Unless the government moves now, this gap will actually impact Canada’s ability to move forward in terms of prosperity,” she said.

Census data show women make up 60 per cent of university graduates up from 32 per cent in 1971 and close to half the workforce

Nearly two-thirds (64.4 per cent) of women with infants and toddlers are employed, according to Statistics Canada figures from 2009. About 27 per cent had jobs in 1976.

Jennifer Kim, 29, said arranging childcare for her four-month-old daughter Lily will be an ongoing problem once she goes back to university this fall, then to work after graduation.

By Kim’s calculations, childcare for Lily would cost $16,000 each year, a good chunk of the salary she expects to earn as an early childhood educator.

Should Kim and her husband have another child, “it would almost force me to put all my money in childcare or stay at home,” the Toronto resident said.

“I want to contribute to society,” said Kim, who already has a university degree in science and a college diploma.

Childcare programs are run by the provinces, and vary by region….

In 2010-2011, Ottawa is sending $1.167 billion to the provinces and territories in support of early childhood development and child care, according to a fact sheet by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

That will increase to almost $1.3 billion by 2013-2014, the document reads.

Without a federal policy, childcare in Canada will remain “an inadequate patchwork that fails to meet the needs of children, families, communities and the nation,” according to the YWCA report….