Children, Parents, Work & Careers
We would do anything for our children. We want them to be successful and thrive – to live well in Canada, to benefit from better education, more opportunities and more rewarding careers.
But today’s parents are under pressure. It’s hard to find the quality of child care spaces we want for our kids. We’re often urged by employers and colleagues to minimize time away from demanding careers. We can’t always afford child care that’s convenient and reliable. According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last year, Canadian families spend over 22% of their net income on child care – well above the average for the 35 high income OECD countries.
These pressures and dilemmas affect our quality of life. We’re torn between the time commitments of good parenting and the pressures of busy workplaces. We also have a difficult time closing the gap between the current length of parental leave (12 months) and the availability of daycare, which generally starts for children aged 18-24 months.
To sustain the joys of parenting we need to share the burdens. While the rate of participation of women in Canada’s labour force has risen to 82%, it’s still 10% behind that of men. Children are still more likely to interrupt the career advancement of women than men. Lower proportions of women in executive positions and on boards reflect these challenges. Rates of employment for both men and women have dropped slightly since the 2008-09 financial crisis, as has interprovincial mobility.
We also know the enormous positive impact early childhood learning can have on infants. When infants and toddlers are stimulated, engaged and active in a healthy environment, they are more likely to succeed in school and in the workplace. The role of early childhood educators needs to be reinforced and the number of highly qualified early childhood educators increased. The availability and affordability of quality daycare spaces needs to be enhanced.
Daycare is regulated or licensed in every province and territory across Canada but only Quebec has universal, subsidized daycare for all children. The proposals below are meant to complement and support previous initiatives to support children and parents.
I would propose that a new Conservative government:
(i) extend parental leave to up to 18 months;
(ii) increase the child care cost deduction to $10,000 for each child under 7; $8,000 for each child from 7 to 17; and $15,000 for each child with a disability;
(iii) contribute $1 billion per year, for five years, to establish a public private partnership involving P3 Canada, the Canada Lands Corporation, Canadian pension funds and private investors to build new daycare facilities in each province and territory;
(iv) vest ownership and building management of these facilities in a crown corporation, tender administration and operations to private operators, and staff the facilities with registered early childhood educators and their assistants;
(v) seek low-cost economies of scale for real estate and long-term, low emissions energy contracts, while enhancing the quality of the facility by ensuring ready access to public transit, parking, safe playgrounds, clean air, parks and trees;
(vi) privatize the crown corporation within five years;
(vii) establish a federally regulated early childhood educator professional as the lead occupation in each daycare, with a level of competency and remuneration comparable to that of kindergarten teachers;
(viii) for those provinces or territories that choose to make provincially-subsidized daycare available, provide federal facilities in addition to existing government-run daycares, or transfer funding equivalent to the amount that would have been spent on such facilities, as each government prefers;
(ix) open up to 100,000 new affordable, federally-built, privately-operated child care spaces per year across Canada for at least five years, subject to review; and
(x) ensure that temporary foreign workers entering Canada (in cases when no Canadian is available to do the job), have the opportunity to qualify abroad as early childhood educators.
Released March 13, 2017