Canada’s child care sector needs funding boost to support parents and economic recovery

    National survey results released: Reopening of child care is at risk

     A survey of more than 8,000 regulated child care facilities across Canada reveals almost all have concerns about reopening their regular early learning and care programs post-COVID, and one-third of them say they are uncertain they will resume operations at all.

    While governments, economists and others say the economy cannot recover from the COVID-19 pandemic without child care services, the child care sector says reopening safely will require financial and staffing resources they don’t have.

    “The child care sector was fragile before the pandemic because public funding has never been sufficient relative to what it costs to provide high quality services,” said Martha Friendly, Executive Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, the primary researcher behind the survey. The survey was carried out by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, the Canadian Child Care Federation and Child Care Now.

    “Without proper government funding, providers of child care have been forced to live on the edge and be overly reliant on parent fees for revenue. This left them incredibly vulnerable during the pandemic shutdown,” added Friendly.

    The survey shows that almost three-quarters of child care centres in Canada, and about 40 per cent of regulated family child care, were shut down by COVID-19; many stopped receiving parent fees. A majority of centres reported they received less government funding than before COVID-19 although some provincial governments continued to provide financial support.

    Don Giesbrecht, Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Child Care Federation, the national organization of child care operators, noted the survey’s finding that 70 per cent of the child care centres laid off their workforce during the pandemic.

    “To get child care back up and running, governments must find ways to bring employees back to the sector,” said Giesbrecht. “This means addressing the problem of low wages and inadequate compensation, and putting in place special funding to make sure that child care facilities are safe for both children and staff.”

    In an announcement last Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau offered Canada’s provinces and territories $14 billion in new federal transfers to assist with the reopening of the economy, including the reopening of child care services.

    “We are very pleased the federal government recognizes there can be no economic recovery without child care, and that child care is especially crucial to address the devastating impact of the pandemic on women with young children, but those federal transfers must be earmarked for additional direct operational funding of child care services,” said Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director of Child Care Now, Canada’s national child care advocacy organization.

    “Boosting public funding for child care and directing more dollars to child care services will mean that those operating child care centres and family child care programs can have the confidence to put in place safety measures and bolster wages to attract the staff they need without increasing parent fees. This is extremely important given the impact of COVID-19 on household incomes,” said Ballantyne.

    -30-

    For media requests:

    Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and                                                              Don Giesbrecht

    Research Unit                                                                                                                    Canadian Child Care Federation

    (416) 562 7579                                                                                                                  (613) 729-5289 ext.220

    martha.friendly@gmail.com                                                                                       dgiesbrecht@ccf-fcsge.ca

     

    Morna Ballantyne                                                                                                            Technical questions related to the survey:

    Child Care Now                                                                                                                 Barry Forer

    (613) 791-3411                                                                                                                 (604) 862-9839

    ed@ccnow.ca                                                                                                                    barry.forer@ubc.ca

     

    The survey report was authored by Researchers Martha Friendly, Barry Forer and Rachel Vickerson, and published by Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Child Care Now, and Canadian Child Care Federation. 

    A separate report providing data for a more detailed picture will be available next week at www.childcarecanada.org, the Childcare Resource and Research Unit’s website.