(Halifax) – Child care advocates are calling on Canada’s governments to move to a public system of early childhood care and education – a move that would benefit children and parents, boost the economy and stem the tide of for-profit child care.
“Governments say they’re committed to children and families, but don’t walk the talk,” said Karen Wright, an early Childhood Educator speaking at the Halifax stop on a cross-country tour calling for public delivery of child care through school boards or municipalities. “The reality is most parents in Nova Scotia are scrambling to find good child care they can afford.”
The Halifax forum took place Thursday evening (October 29) at Saint Mary’s University.
Canada’s patchwork approach relies on already-stretched parents and voluntary groups to set up and maintain non-profit centres. While these programs have been the backbone of child care, they are privately delivered and unable to provide services everywhere the need exists.
Canada is also experiencing an alarming trend – a surge in private, for-profit child care. Research shows for-profit care scores lower in quality studies.
“Canada’s child care services are overwhelmingly privatized, fragmented, and expensive. The proven solution is public funding and delivery. It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do,” says Wright.
Forum participant Martha Friendly, co-author of a new book, About Canada: Childcare and one of the country’s leading experts on early childhood education and care, outlined how a public system could work in Canada.
“Public child care more than pays for itself through measurable social, educational, health and economic benefits to children, families and society – just look at the examples that already exist in Canada. Delivering child care through local public bodies like school boards or municipalities responds to community needs, is affordable and offers high quality,” said Friendly.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees has organized the tour, which brings together community activists, parents, academics, child care workers and union members, to push for action on child care. Visit cupe.ca/child-care for a backgrounder on public child care, provincial child care profiles and more.