The following letter to the editor by Elizabeth Conrad, early childhood educator and member of CUPE 4745, was published in the Chronicle Herald on June 8, 2020.
The Nova Scotia Centre of Education and Early Childhood Development, following the recommendation of Dr. Robert Strang, closed all public schools and licensed child care providers in March. As the province was dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic, the safety of all children in Nova Scotia was the top priority.
As Nova Scotia begins to slowly and carefully remove restrictions, it will be a balancing act of stabilizing the economy while protecting public health. A process has been established by Public Health to carefully examine and approve revision plans for the delivery of all public services. What about parents who require childcare as the economy begins to slowly reopen?
Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Strang have often discussed the reopening of child care centres as a key component in successfully reopening the economy. Public Health will be using the information provided by the childcare sector to expand upon the details of the reopening plan that was submitted.
I agree that a robust health and safety plan requires significant details. However, childcare centres will not be the solution that allows all parents to return to work. Opening childcare centres will provide childcare for some very young children. It will not address childcare for the majority of parents. Many children who attend the public school system still require childcare in order for their parents to return to work.
As the participation of women plays a significant role in the revitalization of our economy, we need to come up with a solution to address these broader childcare needs. Will parents have to choose between caring for their families or their active participation in our workforce?
Elizabeth Conrad is an early childhood educator and unit vice-president for CUPE 4745.