Federal Government Gets Failing Grade on Child Care

Canadian Labour Congress

National Report Cards show government results fall short of promises

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Canadian Labour Congress gave the federal government a failing grade today for its lack of action on providing working parents with more access to affordable, quality child care spaces.

At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress, released a full set of report cards, grading the provinces and the federal government on their overall performance when it comes to delivering the child care services working families need.

Based on public data provided by or through governments, the report cards measure progress (or lack thereof) in three areas: 1) affordability, measured by what it costs parents to access child care services, 2) quality, measured by the salaries paid to child care staff, and 3) accessibility, measured by the creation of new public child care spaces.

Manitoba scored the highest mark, with a grade of B+ while the lowest mark, a D-, was awarded to British Columbia. The federal government, meanwhile, was given an “incomplete” grade.

“They aren’t getting the job done for working parents. Fees are going up. New spaces are being created at a much slower pace than before. Wages for child care workers continue to range from fair to far too low. Provincial governments could do so much more if the federal government was there with stable, predictable funding and support,” says Byers.

“It’s an undeniable fact: the vast majority of today’s Canadian moms are working moms. More than 65% of women with children under three years old work outside the home. Meanwhile, 75% of women with pre-school kids (between three and five years old) are in the paid workforce.

Yet, despite this clear demand for services, says Byers, only 16% of children in Canada had access to a regulated child care space in 2004. Since the Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, took power in 2006, things haven’t improved. Working women continue to face a surplus of promises and a shortage of results.”

Quebec was not included in the Canadian Labour Congress survey because of that province’s advanced child care and early learning services. With just 22% of Canada’s children, Quebec accounts for 45% of the country’s total regulated child care spaces and 78% of the total increase in public funding since 2001. Including it in the survey would be like comparing scrambled eggs to quiche.

Meanwhile, events are planned across the country in the coming days at the provincial level by parents and child care activists to review how their respective province or territory scored and how to work at improving grades.

The report cards are part of the Canadian Labour Congress “Equality! Once and for All!” campaign. For more information about this important campaign for women’s economic equality, or to see the full set of report cards, visit the web site www.onceandforall.ca.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.