Canada-wide child-care plan is needed

Toronto Star - - CANADA -

Re Ottawa can shape the fu­ture of work, Ed­i­to­rial Oct. 30

Your ed­i­to­rial’s strong sup­port of a strength­ened so­cial safety net as part of the so­lu­tion to sup­port pre­car­i­ous work­ers is wel­comed, es­pe­cially by the hun­dreds of thou­sands of Cana­dian par­ents who work one or more short-term or low-paid jobs and still can­not lift them­selves above the poverty line.

In­deed, nearly 1 in 3 low-in­come chil­dren had at least one par­ent who worked the equiv­a­lent of full time. For these fam­i­lies, the Canada Child Ben­e­fit is es­sen­tial sup­port that helps to re­duce hunger and bal­ance the monthly in­come and ex­penses.

It’s a mis­take, how­ever, to ex­pect fam­i­lies to use the CCB to pay for child-care ser­vices. First, far too few par­ents can find suit­able, con­ve­nient child-care ser­vices. To­day’s par­ents face high child­care fees while also pay­ing down stu­dent loans and high hous­ing costs.

And the CCB, as help­ful as it is, is not enough to pay for child care. Low- and mod­est-in­come fam­i­lies need both the child ben­e­fit and the avail­abil­ity of high qual­ity, af­ford­able child care that they can find in their com­mu­ni­ties as they pur­sue train­ing and/or em­ploy­ment in an ef­fort to be­come eco­nom­i­cally sta­ble.

All other in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries that have sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced child poverty to be­low 5 per cent have also de­vel­oped well-re- sourced sys­tems of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and care ser­vices. Canada must act ex­pe­di­tiously to do the same. Lau­rel Roth­man, Cam­paign 2000: End Child Poverty Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, Toronto

Your ed­i­to­rial ad­vice about strength­en­ing Canada’s so­cial safety net as part of shap­ing the fu­ture of de­cent work is ab­so­lutely right. A “uni­ver­sal, qual­ity, af­ford­able child-care sys­tem” is desparately needed by young fam­i­lies. An OECD re­port says the lack of af­ford­able child care keeps young women out of the work­force and shows Cana­dian child­care fees as among the world’s high­est.

The lack of a se­ri­ous Canada-wide child-care plan, long a women’s equal­ity is­sue, a poverty is­sue and an ed­u­ca­tion is­sue, is fast be­com­ing a youth is­sue. Martha Friendly, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Child­care Re­source and Re­search Unit, Toronto

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