Child Care Gap Fails the Economy says YWCA Canada
Prisons not an investment in women’s safety
22 March 2011
Failure to address a national child care strategy in today’s budget leaves a key tool out of the economic recovery kit, says YWCA Canada.
The country’s oldest and largest women’s service provider – and second largest provider of child care services - reminds the government that the lack of a national plan for child care services is a social policy gap that is decades behind reality and a potential drag on the economy. YWCA’s recent report, Educated, Employed and Equal: The Economic Prosperity Case for National Child Care, documents that women have closed the gender gap with men in employment numbers and reversed it in higher education, without any corresponding policy for comprehensive early learning and child care services.
“The national policy vacuum on child care continues,” says Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada. “The government is ignoring fundamental changes to Canadian society. Almost two-thirds of women with a child under the age of three are in the work force. Sixty percent of university graduates and rising are women. A national plan for quality affordable early learning and child care services is not a luxury, a frill or a threat to Canadian families. It’s solid economic planning.”
The employment rate for women with children under 3 increased 233% between 1976 and 2009, and women moved from 32% of university graduates in 1971 to 60% by 2006.
“Research shows that increasing women’s access to the workplace and ensuring women with children can work is a very successful way to increase GDP,” says Ann Decter, YWCA Canada’s Director of Advocacy and Public Policy. “That makes child care an economic stimulus. Silence on that front today is a failure to understand the times.”
Massive investment in prisons will not make women safe. Violence against women is the leading cause of women’s homelessness in Canada, driving over 100,000 women and children into emergency shelters every year. Many more never make it to shelter at all. They live on the streets of our cities, in poverty and exposed daily to sexual harassment and violence. Women fleeing violence, women who live on the streets after years of abuse, need a roof over their heads, a door to lock safely behind them, and services for recovery. Prisons are not the answer.