Parliament Video: Jenny Kwan on the need for a National Childcare Program

On December 11, 2018, I rose in the House to speak about the need for a national child care program for all: 

"Mr. Speaker, when I rose in September to ask the Prime Minister for a national child care program for all, I received a non-answer about the money the government is investing in certain provinces. When pressured on the lack of action, the government immediately falls back on the Canada child benefit policy introduced three years ago. That just does not cut it.

Families are struggling to access affordable, quality child care. In 2017, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimated that 776,000 Canadian children live in communities where at least three children are competing for one spot in a licensed day care. Assuming that they get a spot, parents then have the rough decision of paying ridiculous child care amounts, costing at least $1,000 month per child, or leaving work to care for their kids. In fact, the most expensive cities include Toronto at $1,375 a month, Vancouver at $1,325 a month and Richmond at $1,210 a month versus Montreal's fees where there is universal child care of $164 per month. Single parents are hit the hardest, spending on average 33% of their income on child care, according to the 2016 OECD study.

Women are disproportionately affected, and are often forced to become stay-at-home moms because they cannot afford child care. It is shocking that in 2018, with a so-called feminist Prime Minister, child care continues to act as a barrier to women in the workplace, and directly contributes to the gender wage gap that exists in Canada.

Liberal inaction is a clear indication that the government either does not care or is out of touch with the pressing issues parents of young children are faced with. Instead, the Liberal government plays Santa Claus to the rich corporations and Scrooge to everyday Canadians struggling to make ends meet.

The fall fiscal update gave a blanket tax break to the richest corporations in Canada, allowing them to write off the costs of private jets and limousines. Yet there was nothing in this economic update on child care. If the government can afford $14 billion in tax giveaways for the wealthiest, why can it not invest in child care? The Liberals should note that it is not only families and communities that are affected, but businesses, which lose good, hard-working employees, are impacted as well.

UBC's Dr. Paul Kershaw said work-life conflicts of parents raising young children cost Canadian businesses an estimated $4 billion. Through the media, the head of Bank of Canada indicated that Quebec's universal child care program may well be the tool to boost the entire Canadian economy. According to media reports, the Bank of Canada credited Quebec's $10 a day child care program for raising prime-age female workforce participation from 74% to 84% 20 years ago.

Mr. Poloz stated, “If we could simply bring the participation rate of prime-age women in the rest of Canada up to the level in Quebec, we could add almost 300,000 people to our country's workforce.”

There is no question that we should be investing in child care and investing in people, and that the Government of Canada should act now."

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