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Child care: It's time to act

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Canadian Labour Congress
Press release
Publication Date: 
30 Sep 2004

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The Canadian Labour Congress calls on the federal government to make good on its commitment to put in place a national child care system. "We expect child care to be front and centre in the upcoming Speech from the Throne," says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. "It was a key promise of the Prime Minister and of the Liberal Party, now it is time for the government to indicate that it will follow through." Georgetti has written to the Prime Minister outlining labour's position on an early learning and care system and enquiring on the government's timelines and plans for implementing a national child care policy. "A comprehensive and affordable child care system helps parents work with peace of mind and stay in the workforce so they can earn a decent income for their families," the letter says. "It promotes women's equality by enabling women to participate in the workforce, in school or in job training." "Economists have calculated that for every $1 invested in quality child care, there's a $2 benefit. The experience of other countries confirms that quality child care helps an economy stay productive, and guarantees taxes for other social programs like health and education." The Canadian Labour Congress calls on the government to implement a child care system based on: - Adequate funding to ensure services are of high quality and affordable to parents, and that child care staff are well trained and fairly compensated. The government has promised to spend $5 billion over five years on top of current funding commitments. The Canadian Labour Congress supports an increase in spending to $5 billion per year over the next five years, as the first part of a national funding plan tied to specific service targets and a specific timetable for implementation. - Universally accessible and inclusive. Canadians accept that all children benefit from education. Our public education system is not targeted to specific groups or designed as a welfare program &em; early learning and care services must not be targeted either. A national child care program must also be inclusive of children with disabilities and culturally sensitive to Canada's diverse populations. - A legislative framework. A national child care system must include guaranteed standards and funding, and strong accountability mechanisms. Currently, the availability and quality of child care services in most of Canada are uneven due to scarce funding and uncoordinated policies and standards in many jurisdictions. Any legislation should also respect Quebec's autonomy and leadership in child care. - Public and non-profit delivery of services. Public auspice ensures more equitable access and higher quality. Any commercial dimension would, by its nature, increase the cost of services because of the necessity of a profit. Even quality control will be secondary to profitability. As well, public/non-profit delivery mitigates the risk of trade challenges. "Canada does not have to look far for a good model of a child care system," says Georgetti. Quebec has already taken giant steps towards a universal child care program with its $7-a-day child care policy. The federal government needs to support this program, and act to provide Canadians with the same services and family benefits that Quebec provides to its citizens. "We'll need strong political leadership to transform the current patchwork of unaffordable, limited child care services into a coherent national program," he concludes. The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 137 district labour councils.