Po­ten­tial gains in Que­bec-style child care, Poloz says

Bank of Canada head sees growth op­por­tu­nity

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST - An Bl dy at ch ford

OT­TAWA• The head of the Bank of Canada is point­ing to Que­bec’s child- care poli­cies as pos­si­ble tools to boost the en­tire Cana­dian econ­omy, thanks to their po­ten­tial to un­lock the great­est un­tapped re­source in the labour force: women.

Bank Gov­er­nor Stephen Poloz ded­i­cated part of a speech Tues­day in Kingston, Ont., to spot­light Que­bec’s af­ford­able child- care model as well as its ex­tended parental-leave pro­vi­sions.

He showed he’s put some thought into the pos­si­ble ben­e­fits of a com­pa­ra­ble pan- Cana­dian ap­proach.

Poloz cred­ited Que­bec’s sub­si­dized pro­grams for rais­ing prime- age fe­male work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion to about 87 per cent, up from 74 per cent 20 years ago. In com­par­i­son, he said about 83 per cent of prime- age women par­tic­i­pate in the na­tional work­force.

“The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment iden­ti­fied bar­ri­ers that were keep­ing women out of the work­force and they acted to re­duce them,” Poloz said in his ad­dress at Queen’s Univer­sity. “If we could sim­ply bring the par­tic­i­pa­tion rate of prime- age women in the rest of Canada up to the level that they have in Que­bec, that would add al­most 300,000 peo­ple to our coun­try’s work­force.”

Poloz added the cen­tral bank has no role in im­ple­ment­ing spe­cific poli­cies de­signed to break down labour-force ob­sta­cles.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau’s bud­get last month an­nounced an op­tion that will give new par­ents the abil­ity to share ei­ther five or eight ad­di­tional weeks of leave fol­low­ing the birth of a child, pro­vided they also share the job of car­ing for the baby. The mea­sure is ex­pected to cost $1.2 bil­lion over five years.

How­ever, some econ­o­mists and crit­ics said while the bud­get moved in the right di­rec­tion when it comes to rais­ing fe­male labour- force par­tic­i­pa­tion, its fail­ure to an­nounce steps to­ward na­tional af­ford­able child care likely means a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of women will re­main out of the work­force.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment made prom­ises in pre­vi­ous bud­gets to spend $7.5 bil­lion over 11 years to help ease the bur­den of child- care costs. Part of the goal of the fund­ing was to create 40,000 new, sub­si­dized day­care spa­ces coun­try­wide over three years.

But child- care ad­vo­cates have said it’s not enough. Be­fore the bud­get, they asked Ot­tawa to raise its spend­ing to $ 1 bil­lion an­nu­ally to match what the Paul Martin Lib­er­als promised more than 10 years ago.

In his ad­dress, Poloz pointed to other un­der­rep­re­sented de­mo­graphic groups that could help the econ­omy. Com­bined with women, he said as­sist­ing more young peo­ple, Indige­nous peo­ples, re­cent im­mi­grants and Cana­di­ans liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties to en­ter the job mar­ket could help the labour force ex­pand by half a mil­lion peo­ple.

“Clearly, that’s a prize worth pur­su­ing.”


Em­ploy­ment gains among women since Que­bec brought in its cur­rent child care may point the way for growth, Bank of Canada Gov­er­nor Stephen Poloz said Tues­day.


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