Financing Funds Directly to Child Care Is Key to Gender Equality in Canada

    Today’s budget announcement by Finance Minister Morneau to add a new five-week, use-it-or-lose-it incentive for the second parent to take parental leave and share the responsibilities of raising their young child is good family policy for Canada but does little to help women enter the workforce and make having a family or life itself affordable. If the Trudeau Government truly wants to help the middle classes and women’s equality as its party line touts, then it must make higher direct investments to child care.

    Many Canadian studies and reports show that of any policy geared to help struggling families, investments for high-quality child care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children. Investment in child care pays for itself. It has compounding positive effects on women’s employment and pay. And it goes even further for low-income families.

    Research such as Pierre Fortin’s in Quebec, shows that funding child care directly will much better position women to participate fully in the work force and hence stimulate the economy.

    Canadian women and parents know too well how paying for child care for young children while they go to work is painfully expensive. A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on the rising cost of child care concludes that the typical family with young children spends about a third of its income on fees — this is about $21,096 a year on average in cities like Toronto — more than triple the average tuition cost to put an older child through university for one year.

    This budget announcement on parental leave is a well-intentioned effort toward closing the gap on gender equality but does not directly address the rapidly rising cost of child care and early education programs. And it does nothing for the quality and accessibility of child care at all. It is time for our government to invest adequately in child care and for Canada.

    Don Giesbrecht,
    CEO Canadian Child Care Federation
    613-729-5289 (220)