At CUPE’s recent National Convention, delegates adopted a resolution calling for our union to collaborate with Child Care Now to make progress on creating a Canada-wide early learning and child care system that is universal and affordable.

We have already walked the talk by taking part in a recent Child Care Now national meeting to take stock of how this system is rolling out, and to strategize to ensure the government honours its commitment to create 250,000 spaces by March 2026.

In Budget 2021, the federal government announced a $30 billion investment over five years for early learning and child care followed by an annual funding increase of $8.3 billion.

This investment reduced child care expenses for many families, a major victory at a time when the cost of living has been sharply increasing. However, the lower cost must not overshadow the fact that hundreds of thousands of families are still waiting for spaces, not to mention the fact that the affordability of these services will only add to already high demand.

The expansion of early learning services cannot happen without improvements to working conditions and benefits in a sector that struggles to attract and retain workers. With no staff, all we will be left with are empty buildings. 

At the meeting, Jess Tomas, member of CUPE 2834, shared their thoughts with Jenna Sudds, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development: “People demand qualified professionals to perform surgeries. The same principle applies for qualified professionals to provide education and care to our kids. I have specific training and experience to be able to do my work and our profession needs to be recognized for that expertise.”

Participants reiterated the importance of expanding the system as quickly as possible, as the winds could shift. We know a Conservative government will not be as generous on this issue, will not work with an NDP government to create more public and inclusive programs, and will be more inclined to open the door to the private sector. It is imperative that these services remain under public ownership if we want to guarantee high quality services for our children and the best working conditions for workers.

The right to early childhood educational services is closely related to workers’ rights. CUPE has been closely monitoring the progress of Bill C-35. The bill will enshrine the right to early learning and child care services in legislation and will protect what we have won and gained in recent years.

Child Care Now is organizing a National Day of Action on November 30. Support the movement:

  • Sign the Child Care Now open letter to demand that the government put an end to the critical shortage of early learning and child care services.
  • Take part in the National Day of Action on November 30 by wearing polka dot clothing. Show your support on social media using the hashtag #DotsforSpots.
  • Sign up for the Child Care Now newsletter and follow them on social media to stay up to date on the latest news.