Image: Child care worker with children“We knew there would be something in the Federal budget for child care,” said Lee-Ann Lalli, CUPE National Child Care Working Group Co-Chair. “We did not know any of the specifics before budget day, and I have to say $30 billion over 5 years is going to make a big impact,” she added.

CUPE congratulates our indefatigable child care members who have been raising awareness of the need for a universal, accessible, quality national child care program for decades. Working closely with child care advocates and allies, the budget announcement is a hard fought win, it is a 50-year victory.

“The devil is in the details, said Margot Nickerson, CUPE National Child Care Working Group Co-Chair. “The federal government has announced that they will work with the provinces and territories to implement a universal child care program set to reach $10/day by 2025-2026,” she added.  

The national child care program will be a 50-50 cost share between governments with plans to create new spaces, train more workers, and improve and expand before and after school care.

This news is especially welcome in provinces with governments committed to child care. In other provinces, we will continue to work alongside child care workers and advocates to ensure federal money for early learning and child care isn’t left on the table.

“Our enthusiasm is tempered by the absence of any promises for workers. Child care workers have received a low wage with few if any benefits or a pension so that parent fees were kept low. This cannot continue,” said Lalli.

As this budget announcement acknowledges, child care workers are the backbone of our economy and central to the feminist movement. They deserve to be valued and well compensated for their work.

“To deliver high quality and affordable child care to every family in Canada who wants it, Canada is going to have to attract and retain child care workers. We simply do not have enough,” said Nickerson. Many Early Childhood Educators complete their ECE training but never work as a child care worker because they cannot afford the near poverty wages. Paying for training alone is not going to solve this issue. Federal, provincial and territorial governments are going to have to offer decent salaries and benefits so people passionate about child care can afford to work in the field.

Congratulations to everyone who advocated for universal child care. We celebrate with you. We will stand with you to hold the government to this promise. We will work with you to get all of the provinces and territories onside. This is a big step forward for women, children and families. Let’s make it one for workers too.