There is a child care wait time crisis at Canadian post-secondary institutions. At the University of British Columbia (in Vancouver), for example, there are 1500 children on the waiting list for access to childcare, and at the universities of Dalhousie (in Halifax) and Alberta (in Edmonton), there are two to four year waiting lists for childcare. While post-secondary childcare available in Canada is generally safe, and of excellent quality, there is simply not enough of it to provide for the needs of the university community, or to make universities family friendly spaces.
Having sufficient safe, affordable childcare will improve accessibility to university or college for many diverse groups of students, who are otherwise forced to choose between going to school and taking care of their children. It would also improve completion times, allowing more students to enter, or re-enter, the workforce faster.
However, while many campuses, like UBC Vancouver, provide childcare, it is clear that supply does not meet demand. The issue is not that Canadian universities do not want to provide childcare, but that we need a national vision for infrastructure spending on childcare that can attend to local needs, and a clear articulation of the importance of childcare for university communities.
This kind of vision cannot happen without a dialogue between friends, activists, and academics; the aim of this conference is to provide a space for this dialogue to occur.