The second theme in today’s publication by IRPP (see earlier blog post for the first) is what needs to happen now to make sure that $10 a day child care works out for families and children. There’s a tsunami of additional demand for child care on the horizon as child care fees plummet and we’re not ready for it. Many provinces have not placed much emphasis on expansion of not-for-profit child care spaces and haven’t provided the funding or tools necessary to make it happen.
In today’s publication, which is available here…
… I make the following recommendations to federal and provincial governments:
Rapidly expand not-for-profit and public child care facilities. Provincial and territorial governments should provide substantial capital grants or loan guarantees to not-for-profit operators to accelerate a planned and coordinated expansion. Large jurisdictions should enable specialized development agencies to design, plan and build not-for-profit centres, and should encourage the delivery of more child care services by municipalities, colleges and school boards.
Increase the wages of early childhood educators. With little improvement in pay for child care educators in over 30 years, wages have to rise substantially to recruit and retain enough qualified early childhood educators to meet demand and maintain or improve staff-child ratios.
Be prepared to inject more funding. No one has yet addressed whether $9 Billion a year is enough money to provide universal $10 a day child care in all jurisdictions, especially those where child care fees have been particularly high for years (e.g., B.C., Alberta, and Ontario). It probably isn’t. A cost-shared federal-provincial supplementary financing program in high-fee jurisdictions would make good fiscal and social sense, as governments get a substantial revenue boost from the increased labour force participation of mothers.
Close gaps in maternity and parental benefits. There is a stark difference in the coverage and generosity of maternity and parental benefits between Quebec, which has its own program, and the rest of Canada, which relies on federal Employment Insurance. The federal government should address these gaps as part of planned Employment Insurance reforms. It should follow through on the Liberals’ 2019 election platform promise to ensure that parent who do not qualify for paid leave through EI receive income benefits during the first year of their child’s life.