Childcare ‘patchwork’ not enough: YWCA

Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News

The federal government needs to lead a national child-care program for the sake of Canada’s economic prosperity, the YWCA said in a new report released Monday.

Women have advanced in the workforce and more child care spaces are needed to catch up to that progress and to ensure that women can contribute even further to the economy, the organization’s CEO said.

“We’re adding to the economic prosperity for Canada. In fact, without our participation, I dare say that Canada would not be as prosperous as it is, yet the need for a national child-care program is really lagging behind the times and it’s out-of-step with the reality of women’s lives and that of families,” Paulette Senior said in an interview.

The report, titled “Educated, Employed and Equal: The Economic Prosperity Case for National Child Care,” was released a day in advance of International Women’s Day.

It says men and women now participate in the workforce in virtually equal numbers and that the employment rate for women with children under five years old is 66.5 per cent. But there is an “inadequate patchwork” of child care services that does not offer choice for mothers in the paid workforce, according to the YWCA.

Senior says she commonly hears from women that waiting lists for limited child care spaces can last for years.

“This makes no sense in a country like Canada where we’re so prosperous,” she said.

Election issue?…

Senior says that while the child care benefit cheques are certainly helpful for families, “it’s not child care.”…

The YWCA maintains that the Conservatives still need to lead a national effort to broaden child-care services so that women have the social infrastructure required to allow them to participate in the workforce.

“The path to gender equality is really the path to prosperity and we know that if the government is really serious about providing choice to parents they need to close the social policy gap that currently exists,” said Senior.