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VOTE for every child 2021

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Children and youth must be heard in the election
Publication Date: 
1 Aug 2021
PDF icon EN_UNICEF_Policy-Book_2021.pdf467.69 KB

Excerpted from policy book

Give children the best possible start in life

We call on Canada’s political parties to commit to ensuring accessible, high-quality early learning and child care is available to all families in Canada.

For too many families in Canada, quality child care remains unaffordable or unavailable. In some parts of the country, three years of daycare costs more than four years of post-secondary tuition. Too many parents are forced to choose between quality and convenience. Already under stress before the pandemic due to chronic labour shortages and rising operational costs, thousands of daycare operators across the country are facing a severe crisis. Significant investment is needed immediately to stabilize, expand and improve early learning opportunities across the country.

Early learning and child care is one of the best investments governments can make in a child’s future. Participation in organized learning before elementary school is one of the most important indicators for future educational, economic, social, and health outcomes.

The time has come to act to ensure that high-quality early learning is available to all families in Canada.

We call on Canada’s political parties to propose ideas to expand and improve Canada’s parental leave system.

In the 2019 federal election, every political party proposed changes to Canada’s system of parental leave. It is not often that there is such consensus that a system needs to change. While greater flexibility in duration, and particularly dedicated second-parent leave for parents and access to leave for adoptive parents, have been welcome changes, Canada continues to rank 28th out of 41 wealthy nations in parental leave policies.

In Canada, parental leave paid 52% of the average wage in 2018, making it unaffordable for some who qualify to take longer leave time and reducing family income in the critical early years of a child’s life. Comparatively, across other wealthy countries, the average woman is paid two-thirds of average earnings, and 14 countries fully pay the average earnings. Better pay, elimination of all barriers to qualifying, and more flexibility in the timing and duration of leave are three key ways parental leave could work better for parents and children.