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July 21st, 2020

Building for Better: Let’s Build a Universal Child Care Program

Coming out of this crisis, let’s finally build a universal child care and early learning system that delivers the help that families need

OTTAWA – As businesses and the economy reopen, parents are having to make the difficult decision between going to work and taking care of their kids. To help families, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the Liberal government to invest the required $2.5 billion this year to finally build towards a universal child care and early learning system so that parents who want to go back to work, can go back to work.

“Women’s participation in the workforce is at its lowest in 30 years. That is staggering and shows that child care is essential to restarting the economy. But different Liberal governments have been promising a child care program since 1993. Women can’t afford to continue to wait,” said Singh. “Federal investment in a universal and public child care program is crucial now more than ever to help women, and parents, get back to work.”

Statistics Canada showed that women are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and since women make up about half of Canada's workforce, economic recovery is mathematically impossible without women going back to work. Child care is also the second biggest expense for families after housing. The average national cost of child care is $10,000 a year per child, with costs in places like Toronto hitting as high as $20,000 per child a year. And even before the COVID-19 crisis, there were only enough licensed child care spaces for one in four children under six.

“There is no economic recovery without child care. The Liberals missed the mark with their agreement with provinces and continue to treat child care as a nice to have instead of a must have,” added Singh. “Experts, businesses, economists and parents are clear: they can’t go back to work without safe, reliable and affordable child care. We must invest 2.5 billion dollars to finally build a universal and affordable child care program.”

New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to immediately invest $2.5 billion to stabilize the child care sector and to work with the provinces, territories, and Indigenous governments to create 500,000 new affordable licensed child care spaces and to bring in legislation to enshrine the commitment to quality, affordable publicly funded child care into law, and set out the principles, conditions, and requirements for federal transfer payments to provinces (like in the Canada Health Act).