Educated, Employed and Equal: The Economic Prosperity Case for National Child Care

YWCA Canada

Download the report

Child Care Services Decades Behind Reality, Says YWCA Canada

The absence of a national plan for child care services is a social policy gap that is decades behind reality, says a new report from YWCA Canada, the nation’s oldest and largest women’s service provider. Educated, Employed and Equal: The Economic Prosperity Case for National Child Care documents quiet revolutions in women’s employment and education since the 1970s that have seen women close the gender gap with men in employment numbers and reverse it in higher education. Instead of a national policy creating comprehensive early learning and child care services, the federal government has left a policy vacuum.

“On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the evidence is in. Women’s lives have changed. A national plan for quality affordable early learning and child care services is not a luxury, a frill or a threat to Canadian families,” says Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada. “It’s an essential support and needs to become as normal in our social system as public school. Parents need this choice today.”

The employment rate for women with children under 3 increased 233% between 1976 and 2009, and women moved from 32% of university graduates in 1971 to 60% by 2006.

“This is a shocking policy gap,” says Ann Decter, YWCA Canada’s Director of Advocacy and Public Policy. “We’ve completely ignored the changes in women’s daily lives over the last 30 years, and sailed on as if it’s still 1975. Women reversed the gender gap in higher education 20 years ago. Women surpassed men in paid employment in 2009. Where is the national policy response to support raising our children?”

“Early learning and child care is good for the economy because it helps parents work,” says Andrea Calver, coordinator of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. “The numbers prove it. It’s no surprise that provinces are moving forward at differing rates with partial schemes. But without the federal government, the response will be inadequate and patchwork.”

“Underfunding of child care is neglect of low-income families,” says City Councilor Janet Davis. “The failure of the federal government to lead development of a national plan for child care services is a disgrace. Thousands wait for subsidies in Toronto alone. Families are stretched to the bone to cover costs and every year we scramble to save services. Where is the national leadership?”

Educated, Employed and Equal reports that the workforce is increasingly well-educated and more women than men are obtaining university and college educations, making a national plan to ensure comprehensive access to quality, affordable early learning and child care services essential to Canadian prosperity, a crucial support for children and parents and a common sense response to a changed society.


Related articles

Canadian economy threatened by lack of national childcare plan, group says
Paola Loriggio, Canadian Press/Tyee
6 Mar 2011

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.

The federal government offers benefits and tax credits for parents.

Parents with a child under the age of six can receive $100 per month under the Universal Child Care Benefit. Meanwhile, parents can claim up to $315 in tax savings for each child under 18.

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….