On Wednesday, July 21st Ottawa’s city councillors passed a motion supporting a national child care program, and laying out steps to increase pressure on the Ford government to sign onto this plan. The motion, presented by Councillor Theresa Kavanagh and seconded by Councillor Riley Brockington, supports the growth of high-quality, non-profit child care across Ontario, while encouraging the Ontario government to accept Ontario’s share of over 30 billion dollars offered by the federal government in its April 19, 2021 Budget.
The pandemic has highlighted the inequities of child care in Ontario, pushing the gender gap into an historic spotlight. Parents, caregiver, and child care workers are all too aware of the barriers women and gender diverse persons experience in accessing adequate, affordable and suitable services and resources such as child care, to say nothing of the overwhelming poor and gendered working conditions in such a plainly essential service.
Federal investment would, over the next five years, allow the province to lay the groundwork for a universal child care system, contingent on a bilateral agreement being reached with the federal government. This would allow provinces to work collaboratively with the federal government to bring about a program of early learning and child care services that are accessible, affordable, high-quality, and responsive for all families, and are premised on good jobs for anyone working in child care.
Nova Scotia, British Colombia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island and the Yukon have already reached agreements, while Ontario inexplicably has remained silent on the matter. Ontario should immediately sign onto this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a Canada-wide early learning and child care system, premised on accessibility, affordability, and good working conditions.
Councillor Brockington has been tasked with relaying to Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce the City of Ottawa’s support for building a national child care system for children under 12. We cannot allow this desperately needed system to be delayed once again. We must demand accountability and change, as the pandemic has exposed the fundamental gaps in our society and the highly gendered suffering and exploitation our current system delivers.