Child care is a cornerstone of advocacy for YWCA Canada, the second largest provider of child care in the country. Canada needs a publicly-funded universal child care program based on the principles of universality, quality and affordability and delivered in regulated non-profit and public settings.
Research tells us that for every public dollar spent on daycare we save $2 down the road in public spending, yet Canada tied for last place among 25 developed countries on early child care services in a 2008 UNICEF report. Canada failed to meet nine out of 10 benchmarks, including a national plan with priority for the disadvantaged and child poverty rates of less than 10 per cent. The social and educational benefits of early learning and child care services for children and families are well established, particularly for children living in poverty and low-income families.
As YWCA Canada reported in Educated, Employed and Equal – The Economic Prosperity Case for National Child Care (2011), women’s advances in the workforce and education over the last three decades demonstrate an unstoppable movement toward equality and mark a quiet revolution in women’s lives. The gender gap has closed in employment numbers and reversed in education without a corresponding social policy response. Canada needs early learning and child care services, not a social policy gap that is decades behind reality.
In the words of Justice Rosalie Abella, child care is women’s "ramp to equality". Between 1976 and 2009, the employment rate of women with infants and toddlers more than doubled, rising from 27.6% to 64.4%. Barring a major shift of men into child-rearing, nation-wide, comprehensive, early childhood learning and care is fundamental to women’s equality.
YWCA Canada’s 2006 report, Building a Community Architecture for Early Childhood Learning and Care, documents effective community models for development and delivery of comprehensive and integrated early childhood learning and care.
To achieve comprehensive national child care, YWCA Canada works in coalition with numerous national organizations through the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.
After more than 30 years of uninterrupted increases in women’s workforce participation, the labour force consists equally of women and men. Child care is a family issue, a labour market issue, and an equality of opportunity issue. It must also become an integral part of our social infrastructure.