Child Care WorkerAdrienne Silnicki | CUPE Research

Prior to the fall federal election, the Liberal government was quickly signing bilateral agreements with provincial and territorial governments for a universal child care program. To the delight of child care activists, pen was finally being put to paper to make $10 a day (on average) child care a reality, albeit not until the end of December 2026. Each province who signed an agreement agreed to a fifty per cent reduction in the cost of care by the end of 2023. 

 When the writ dropped in early August, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut were left without a signed child care agreement. As the Conservative Party rose in the polls, people began to worry that the 50-year promise of universal child care was once again going to be placed on hold. Fortunately, child care is still on the federal government agenda.  

“With another Liberal minority government, child care will need strong friends to hold the Liberals to their promise. Fortunately, the NDP have enough seats in the house to give the Liberals the votes (and the pressure) they will need to build a strong program for everyone,” said Margot Nickerson, co-chair of CUPE’s National Child Care Working Group.  

Child care workers have had their pay tied to child care fees for decades. If the governments do not dismantle this payment structure, workers will not see the raise in pay they desperately need and deserve. According to Statistics Canada data from 2015, child care workers make less than half ($24,100 annually) of the average national income for workers in all other occupations. A report released by Statistics Canada in June 2021 showed that child care employment had declined by 21 per cent since the previous year and there is a concern those workers will not return to the sector. “Child care is already severely understaffed, if we want to create universal child care, we need to offer a decent wage. Child care workers simply can’t afford poverty wages,” said Lee-Ann Lalli, Co-Chair of CUPE’s National Child Care Working Group.  

Child Care activists anxiously await the return of Parliament and the announcement of the Cabinet. The Throne speech and Ministerial mandate letters will set the stage on the work being committed to and the areas where activists and the NDP will need to push to build a truly affordable, accessible, universal, child care system for all.