FILE – Children play at a daycare in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday March 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

FILE – Children play at a daycare in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday March 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

When the Liberals unveiled a plan for child care in Wednesday’s (Sept. 23) Throne Speech, University of B.C. associate professor Paul Kershaw said he was feeling hopeful hearing the issue take centre stage as Canada plans for its COVID-19 recovery.

“It is significant to see child care featured so prominently in a throne speech,” said University of B.C. associate professor at the School of Population and Public Health and Generation Squeeze founder Paul Kershaw.

“But throne speeches are ultimately not really the place where you know really how serious people are.”

READ MORE: Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

This year’s Throne Speech, given on Sept. 23 by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, mentioned child care as a factor in helping women be a part of Canada’s economic recovery from the pandemic. While job losses have hit many sectors and demographics since COVID-19 first led to a shutdown of much of society in March, women have been particularly affected. As the pandemic began, Statistics Canada data showed that women became unemployed at twice the rate of men.

The problem is compounded when it comes to parents. A UBC study released in July found that the gap between employment of dads and moms of school-aged children had grown from 0.8 to 7.3 per cent, with women trailing.

Kershaw said that if the federal government acts quickly, a child care investment could head off the worst gender employment gap if a second wave of COVID-19 leads to renewed job losses.

“If the government were to invest really quickly an extra $2 billion right now… could go a significant way to keep child care spaces open during a pandemic and bring their costs down to they’re actually affordable.”

Along with helping women stay in the work force, Kershaw said that investing in quality, affordable child care could stop inequality – which grows during an economic crisis but does not always shrink after – from deepening.

“When we widen inequality in the earliest years, you then really risk locking in that this inequality will persist over time as people age,” he said. “When we optimize the start that young people get… they’re less likely to fail in school, less likely to wind up in jail, less likely to fall ill as adults in ways that we could have prevented.”

RAED MORE: Feds probing ways to address COVID-19 impact on women

Eventually, that $2 billion would have to be raised to a $10 billion investment, Kershaw noted, to build up to a national child care program. However, with a deficit north of $330 billion, Kershaw said that extra child care funding is “a rounding error” in comparison

“Now is the time is to not confuse child care with the fiscal problem,” he added.”

The national system could become similar to the Quebec model, which started at $5 a day in the late 1990s, and for 2020 sits at $8.35 per day and is paid directly to the child care facility.

However, Kershaw thinks that a national program should avoid the sliding scale that Quebec has now gone to, with the highest earners paying up to $20 a day.

“I think that is not a good recipe. We don’t have [sliding scale] approach when we go to a doctor, we don’t have that approach when we go to grade school… I think we need to have a consistent fee.”

That daily fee, he added, should top out at $10 per day, with discounts for lower income families that can’t afford it. A means-tested system that raises costs for more well off families will just be more expected and complicated to implement, he noted, and that money can be recouped in other ways from higher income households.

“Those with more means will contribute more to child care… as is appropriate,” Kershaw said, but said the most efficient way to do that is a flat fee at the door and income taxes staggered by income level, which Canada already does for other free or flat fee services like health care and education.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ChildcareCoronavirus

Just Posted

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
8 old-growth logging protesters arrested in Fairy Creek watershed Friday

A total of 214 people have been arrested as of June 11

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read