Childcare Crunch Won't Go Away Unless We Make It An Election Issue
You have roughly one in five odds of winning at childcare roulette:
of finding a regulated childcare space for your child.
Those are the childcare facts of life in this country -- and Canadian families are paying the price as a result.
So is the Canadian economy.
After all, a parent who is worried about the type of care his or her child is receiving at daycare isn't a particularly productive worker.
The business community has already woken up to the fact that childcare isn't just a family issue: it's a business issue, too. Now we just need government to join parents and employers at the table.
In an effort to get childcare back in the national spotlight during election time –- a time when politicians have a vested interested in paying attention to ordinary citizens -- the national childcare advocacy group Code Blue is urging parents to ensure that childcare gets the serious attention it deserves.
They're asking parents to
2. ensure that childcare-related questions make it on to the agenda for the national leaders' debate and out into the spotlight in other ways (You'll no doubt have other opportunities in your own neighborhood to ask childcare-related question at local all-candidates' debates.)
Code Blue would like to see the next government make a major investment in childcare –- to take Canada out of the basement when it comes to international rankings of spending on early learning and child care programs. We're last among 14 similar countries, according to a report prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That's not just an international embarrassment. It's a national disgrace. We're letting down an entire generation of children. What we need is a national non-profit childcare system -- quality, regulated, and available to every child who needs it. We don't ask families to spin the roulette wheel to see if their kids should qualify for the right to go to school. Why should we play roulette with their well-being when they are even younger and more vulnerable?
Is it ignorance or lack of caring or both that has been driving the federal childcare agenda for the past almost-three-years? That's what Code Blue spokeswoman Susan Harney wants to know.
"Stephen Harper is clearly out of touch with -- or he doesn't care about -- the child-care crisis facing the majority of families today. Harper's answer when families ask why there isn't space for their children is a measly, taxable $100 a month and then he sends families out to fend for themselves."
Father of two Michel Laflamme agrees: “I don’t know what Mr. Harper expects parents to do when good child care costs so much and is so hard to find. A hundred dollar-a-month taxable allowance doesn’t help very much when parents face child care costs of up to $10,000 a year—and can’t even find a space to begin with.”
Childcare by the numbers
837,923 Regulated child care spaces for children 0-12 in Canada in (2007)
17.2 percent Percentage of children 0-12 for whom there is a regulated space (2006)
19.3 percent Percent of children 0-5 for whom there is a regulated space (2006)
$950 million Federal transfer funds designated for Early Childhood Education and Childcare (2006/07)
$600 million Federal transfer funds designated for Early Childhood Education and Childcare (2007/08)
69 percent Labour force participation rate of mothers with youngest child 0-3 (2005)
76 percent Labour force participation rate of mothers with youngest child 3-5 (2005)
Source: Childcare Resource and Research Unit.