Why is it so important now?
COVID-19 has revealed the tremendous gaps in our early learning and childcare system. Women’s paid and unpaid work have sustained the country through the pandemic at the price of their hard-earned labour force advancements and the economic benefits these bring. We cannot let women’s progress slide back. Building a Canada-wide childcare system is key.
Is this solely a woman's issue?
No. The care and nurturing of our children belongs to all families, and all Canadians have a vested interest in excellent outcomes for the kids. No matter the generation or gender, investments in system building will yield benefits: in the short term economic growth owing to employment in the childcare sector or in building trades to retrofit centres; in the medium term increased labour force participation for mothers (and thus higher tax revenues and lower family poverty); and in the long term with greater learning readiness, a more educated workforce, and strong, resilient generations able to support Canada’s ageing population. In addition, work/family balance requires supporting and sharing responsibilities for caregiving.
Will this be a mandatory program?
Will this be some sort of cookie cutter program imposed on provinces and territories?
No. Bilateral arrangements with each province will be unique to them. We strongly support shared guiding principles (i.e., high quality, accessibility, affordability and flexibility) and a commitment to stable funding to ensure the training, recruitment and retention of well-paid and professional staff – 95% of whom are women.
Why not just give money to parents?
Parents cannot buy what does not exist, and there are spaces for only about 27% of children. Infrastructure must be built, and staff need to be hired and trained. Childcare infrastructure is as important as our bridges and highways.
Why the emphasis on affordability? Shouldn’t those that earn more, pay more?
When we are invested in the quality and success of shared social programs, we deepen our shared commitment to excellence for all – and nowhere is this more important than for our kids. Canada is built on diversity. If we develop centres for those with money and those without, we will create stigmas and stereotypes. Our kids must learn from each other without any biases. Like our schools – and 91% of kids in Canada attend public schools – early learning and childcare should be available to every child as a public good.
What can you do?
Speak up. We are asking for a Call to Action now. The creation of a Canada-wide program will take several years to implement properly, but initial momentum and mobilization are important. We need to make sure provincial/territorial politicians know how much this means. Write your Premier and/or write your elected official in your province.
We have attached a sample letter. You can also call your elected representative and ask to speak to them.
We do not have to re-invent the wheel. A multilateral framework already exists. But we do want to feel certain that any future wheel turns equitably and efficiently. Our prosperity depends on it.
The Explainer: Budget 2021 – Early Learning and Child Care – Kerry McCuaig, April 29, 2021
Balancing affordability, access, quality – Weekly e-newsletter May 6, 2021
The Yukon, Canada’s new leader in early learning and care – Weekly e-newsletter May 20, 2021
Sign up for the Atkinson Centre Weekly e-Newsletter
Atkinson Centre Video Resources
Ottawa’s $10-a-day child care promise should heed Québec’s insights about balancing low fees with high quality – The Conversation, Kerry McQuaig (Atkinson Centre), May 11, 2021
First Policy Response – Ryerson University
Childcare topic portal
How do you build a Canada-wide childcare system? Fund the services – March 8, 2021
Delivering on the Commitment: A Canada-Wide Childcare Plan – YouTube video with Minister Ahmed Hussen and Dr. Kate Bezanson, Brock University and other speakers.
Other Websites / Resources
Charitable, academic, and private sector leaders urge Ottawa limit child care funds to non-profit/public providers – Early Child Development Funders Working Group, June 29, 2021
Investing in early learning and child care – Atkinson Foundation, September 22, 2020
Early Childhood Education Report
Early Years Study (EYS Newsletter)
Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation Inc. (MWM)
It’s time for #ECEforCanada – Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation
The Affordable Child Care for All Plan – Child Care Now
How Domestic Labor Became Infrastructure – The Atlantic, Moira Donegan, April 14, 2021
Ottawa, B.C. reach deal on child-care funding, Trudeau announces – The Globe and Mail, Amy Smart, July 8, 2021
N.S. child-care fees to drop to $10 a day by 2026 under new $605M deal – CBC, Frances Willick, July 13, 2021