CUPE is pleased that the federal government has taken another step in honouring its Confidence and Supply agreement with the NDP to ensure a universal and affordable Canada-wide early learning and child care system. If passed, the Bill will enshrine the Government’s commitment to expanding child care that is affordable, high-quality, and culturally appropriate.
Today’s announcement of Bill C-35 makes a commitment to long-term federal funding, emphasizes the need to ensure culturally appropriate and high quality child care for Indigenous children, and includes right to care conventions from important international bodies.
There are two things missing, however. The first is a strategy to address the shortage of early childhood educators and child care workers. The second is a commitment to expanding and funding public and non-profit child care through conditions on federal funding. Public and non-profit child care has been proven by multiple research studies to offer the highest quality of care.
Child care workers in Canada continue to leave the sector due to the low pay, lack of benefits and pension, and poor working conditions. The shortage of workers means that in many communities there is only one child care space available for every three children who need it, and waitlists are long. Child care workers are highly trained and skilled individuals who deserve respect and fair pay. Until the child care staffing crisis is resolved, the promise of affordable and high quality child care for every family in Canada who needs it will remain unfulfilled.
Bill C-35 is a step in the right direction. Now we need further commitment from the federal and provincial governments to ensure public and not-for-profit child care is expanded across the country, with well-compensated workers who can afford to remain in the field.