Brief submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance pre-budget consultation by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit argues that "a real national childcare program would be both the smart thing and the right thing to do for Canada".
The Toronto Star recently noted in an article about CRRU’s latest report in the ECEC in Canada series that Canada’s “daycare bust” prevents us from meeting social challenges such as the current biggest “baby boom” in 50 years (Monsebraaten, 2014). Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest countries but international reviews have repeatedly awarded us the very lowest grades on early childhood education and childcare (ECEC) (for example, UNICEF, 2008). The most recent data show that progress on many aspects of the state of ECEC is virtually inert, with some elements deteriorating (Ferns and Friendly, 2014).
Canada’s ECEC situation fails to meet the challenges not only of the current baby boom but many other social challenges as well. Without a national ECEC program and significant federal funding, high quality childcare remains limited in supply and/or financially out of reach for the majority of families in all regions of Canada. While it has become hackneyed to catalogue the problems of Canadian childcare, for the young families who struggle with the same limited childcare options as their parents, it is an urgent crisis.
Canada’s inadequate public funding and weak public policy are closely linked to childcare space shortages (especially for infants, Indigenous people, children with disabilities, rural communities and families working unusual hours). High parent fees put quality childcare out of families’ reach while the early childhood education profession is poorly paid and under-valued. Program quality too often cannot be considered “educational” or beneficial to children and integration with the education system remains weak. For many parents the only available option is unregulated childcare with no public oversight—a “choice” that occasionally turns harmful or deadly.