Lack of child care costing Canada: report
TheStar.com – Life/parentcentral.ca/parent/education
March 6, 2011. Laurie Monsebraaten, Social Justice Reporter
Unless more men start raising babies Canada is going to be a poorer place, says a new report that looks at problems facing mothers in the workforce.
The alternative is to launch a national child-care program, says the report by YWCA Canada. It is due to be released Monday, the day before International Women’s Day.
“The prosperity of the nation is intimately tied to the labour force participation of an educated, skilled workforce that is becoming increasingly female,” says the report.
“Barring a major shift of men into child-rearing, provision of early learning and child-care services (are) essential to the nation’s future economic prosperity.”
The issue hits home with Ryerson University student and new mother Jennifer Kim, 29, who has a university degree in science and a college diploma. She hopes to return to class next fall to complete a degree in early childhood education and eventually work in the field of music for young children.
Kim’s husband has a good job as a computer software developer. But the couple can’t afford both her school expenses and regulated child-care fees of up to $60 a day. With more than 18,000 children on Toronto’s waiting list for subsidized child care, Kim’s options are limited.
Fortunately, her mother is willing to help care for her daughter. But Kim knows that’s an option most families don’t have.
“It astounds me that in this day and age most women are unable to find high-quality, affordable child care in their communities.”
It shocks YWCA Canada’s Paulette Senior too.
She notes that a national daycare program was one of the key recommendations of the 1970 Royal Commission on the Status of Women. And yet regulated child care today is available for just 20 per cent of children under age 5.
“More than 40 years later, women are still waiting. Given the huge advances of women in other areas since then, we feel the need for a national child-care plan is an important issue to highlight, especially with the possibility of a federal election this year.”
The YWCA’s report — called Educated, Employed and Equal: The economic prosperity case for national child care — notes the number of women employed in Canada more than doubled between 1976 and 2009, to more than 7.7 million.
Though women’s employment flat-lined during recessions, it never dipped, regardless of economic conditions, says the report, which draws on research from Statistics Canada, academics and child-care experts.
Employment for women with infants and toddlers hit 64.4 per cent in 2009, up from 27.6 per cent in 1976.
That number jumped to almost 79 per cent for women with children between the ages of 6 and 15 — almost the same rate for women without children, says the report.
The education picture has changed dramatically, too.
In 1971, men made up 68 per cent of university graduates between the ages of 25 and 29. By 2006, the rate had almost reversed, with young women making up 60 per cent of graduates.
These trends indicate that the Canadian labour force will soon have more women than men with university educations.
Women’s workforce and education advances represent an “unstoppable movement toward equality” that needs a national child-care policy to help women combine these gains with motherhood, the report urges.
Says Senior: “It is long past time to close this gap.”
Volumes of research show that quality child care helps children become lifelong learners, supports the social needs of families and is a powerful tool in reducing child poverty, the report says.
It can also help drive the economy. A recent Canadian study on the cost-benefit of public investment in quality child care shows a return of $2.54 for every dollar invested.
“A national plan to ensure comprehensive access to quality, affordable early learning and child care services is not a luxury, a frill or a threat to Canadian families,” the report concludes.
“It is essential to Canadian prosperity, a crucial support for children and parents and should become as normalized in our social structure as the public school system as a choice for parents.”
< http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/education/childcare/daycare/article/949585–lack-of-child-care-costing-canada-report >