We know that high-quality, affordable child care supports gender equality, economic growth, and child development, and is essential for supporting the labour participation of parents, particularly mothers. But this is not the child care we have.
For many years Canada has been experiencing a child care crisis. There is a significant shortage of quality, affordable, licensed spaces. Relying on a market approach to developing and operating child care services has resulted in high user fees in most of the country, uneven quality of care for children, low wages for staff, and uneven coverage for families. A market approach is never going to solve our child care problems. Instead, we need a paradigm shift away from market-based services to a public system.
We can learn a lot by studying other jurisdictions that have successfully made this shift. We can also learn from countries where child care operates within a market system, that are tackling the big issues of affordability, quality, access and equity. Over the next two years, we’ll be visiting selected countries that have built, or have a goal of building, robust child care systems over time, through changes to government policy.
Our research will take into account the unique context of each country—its history, structures, current policies, funding, provision, and the perspectives of multiple stakeholders. We’ll use our findings to develop options for moving away from Canada’s current patchwork of market services to a comprehensive, affordable, high-quality early childhood education and care system.
Jane Beach is an early childhood education and care (ECEC) research and policy consultant, based in Victoria, British Columbia. Over the past 25 years, Jane’s consulting work has ranged from large-scale national and international studies on various aspects of child care policy to local child care planning and organizational reviews.
She has been co-lead for several pan-Canadian initiatives focused on human resources in the ECEC sector, including two ECEC sector studies, the development of a training strategy for the early childhood sector, a study on the various pathways to ECE credentialing across the country, a study of emerging issues in child care, and the You Bet We Still Care! Canada-wide survey of wages and working conditions of staff and employers working in licensed group care. She was also a member of the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council’s Expert Panel for Labour Market Information and Research Agenda project.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) represents 51,000 postal workers across the country.
CUPW is a democratic union. Our members elect all representatives, set bargaining priorities, and have the final say on contract demands and settlements. We are proud of our history and the achievements of our members.
CUPW and Canada Post Corporation negotiated the Child Care Fund in 1991.
CUPW is the only union in North America that has negotiated a fund to help its members with their child care needs. Many of our members have difficulty finding or affording quality licensed child care because they work irregular hours, live and work in rural and remote areas of the country, need infant care, or have children with special needs. The CUPW Child Care Fund is there to support them.
CUPW works with non-profit, community-based child care service providers in different regions of the country to develop innovative child care services. The Fund currently supports eight child care projects for children aged 0–12, and two national projects for members who have children or adult sons and daughters with disabilities.