TORONTO, June 12, 2017 /CNW/ - Today's child care announcement by federal and provincial and territorial ministers responsible for early childhood education on a long-awaited framework agreement falls far short of what Canadians need.
"Children are missing out on early learning and development opportunities and society is missing out on the talents of workers - mostly women - who cannot afford to enter or re-enter the workforce," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "This random hodgepodge of funding for child care spaces is more expensive than a universal system and it isn't good for children or parents."
The investment appears to be a significant amount of money from the federal government toward addressing Canada's child care crisis but in fact is not enough to make progress in this area. Allowing for the continuation of a patchwork approach rather than building a universal system all but guarantees that needs will not be met. The inadequate consultation has resulted in an agreement that does not reflect the experience of parents or the expertise of those working in the sector, child care advocates and child care policy experts.
"This framework agreement is missing a commitment to universal access which is the only way to address the increasing demand across the country for affordable, high-quality child care services," said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women's Director. "All the evidence, research and international experience demonstrates that a targeted program cannot meet the development goals we wish for all children regardless of their family's social or economic status."
Provinces and territories will not be required to match federal investment to access the federal dollars and will be allowed to each provide their own action plans for the use of funds, with limited federal oversight.
"Leaving the specifics up to each province allows for huge variances in what is offered from region to region," said Dias. "We should all be as concerned about equitable, universal access to child care as we are about our health care. No matter where you live or what you earn, we all deserve access to regulated spaces with trained staff for our children."
Unifor will continue to push all levels of government to reject a market-based patchwork approach to child care. It is crucial that we see a commitment to a comprehensive, publicly-funded system of high quality early childhood education and care that is inclusive of all children, meets the development needs of children, the needs of parents and supports this important workforce.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.
For further information: please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Shelley Amyotte at [email protected] or 902-717-7491 (cell).