The growth of for-profit child care in Canada was the top concern for the National Child Care Working Group. The committee gathered in Ottawa November 22 –24 to examine ways to improve child care across Canada and sounded the alarm about growth of for-profit child care.
Early childhood education workers from across Canada warned that without a public system of early childhood education and care in Canada we won’t meet the needs of children and families.
“We are seeing too much growth in for-profit child care,” said Jamie Kass, co-chair of the committee. “We are very concerned about this trend because from our perspective, there is simply no place for profit making in child care.”
Today in Canada there is a mix of for-profit, non-profit and public child care services providing a patchwork of services. Each community shared different examples of how the system can be improved and the message was clear – we need a publicly funded and delivered system in Canada to ensure quality, affordable early childhood education and care is available to all Canadian families.
“We know that quality affordable child care helps ease poverty, enables parents to enter the workforce and gives our children the best start in life, “ said Randi Gurholt-Seary, co-chair of the committee. “The problem is, too many families don’t have access to child care. Waiting lists are long, fees are too high and there is no system to guarantee access quality care.”
“We don’t need to look to the market for a solution – it’s the responsibility of governments. We need a system of publicly funded, publicly delivered child care for every family,” added Kass. “It will also ensure good jobs and decent wagers for early childhood educators and retain these workers in a sector where there is a growing shortage of ECEs.”
The committee pointed to PEI as an example of a province that has like PEI has taken a bold step to move early childhood education into a more public delivery system through the New Preschool Excellence Initiative and vowed to watch closely to ensure the program is implemented in a way that meets the needs of children and families. Committee members are also monitoring and responding to initiatives in a number of other provinces that have moved child care into ministries of education.
The committee plans to work with community partners to ensure early childhood education and care is an issue in the coming federal election. It also discussed important issues like pensions for child care workers, updates on other provincial initiatives and occupational standards.