Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. His department would likely take the lead in creating a federally funded child-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. His department would likely take the lead in creating a federally funded child-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

VIDEO: Liberals to unveil first step on child-care plan in economic update, sources say

Liberals have privately described plan as major new spending being considered behind closed doors

The federal Liberals will take a small step toward a plan to create a national daycare system, with sources telling The Canadian Press next week’s economic update will have money for a new federal child-care body.

Sources with knowledge of the government’s plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations about yet-to-be-announced measures, said the Liberals will unveil funding for the child-care secretariat next week.

There are also expectations the Liberals will add emergency money through “safe restart” deals with provinces to help child-care centres struggling financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of it will tease what the Liberals have privately described as major new spending being considered behind closed doors, one of the sources said.

A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said her office won’t comment on what will or won’t be in the fiscal update.

The Liberals have promised a long-term commitment to create a national child-care system, seeing it as a key way to help women whose working lives have suffered during the pandemic, in what has been dubbed a “she-cession.”

A report released Wednesday estimated that between 363,000 and 726,000 women in the “prime parenting age cohort” between 25 and 50 could join the labour force over a 10-year period as a national child-care program is developed.

Among them would be up to 250,000 women moving into full-time jobs.

Report author and economist Jim Stanford said the lack of accessible and affordable daycare is a key reason why fewer women in their 30s and 40s are in the workforce than men the same age.

There is also the potential for tens of thousands of construction jobs as new centres and spaces are built, along with an employment boost in the child-care sector as it expands.

“Economists have agreed for years that child care has huge economic benefits, but we just can’t seem to get the ball over the line in Canada,” said Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work.

“I finally think the ducks are being lined up here and we can actually make this happen,” he added.

“This really is the moment when we can finally move forward, and it is a moment when Canada’s economy needs every job that it can get.”

A recent report by RBC economists Dawn Desjardins and Carrie Freestone calculated that 20,600 women fell out of the labour force between February and October even as 68,000 more men joined it.

The situation was most acute for women ages 20 to 24, and 35 to 39; one of the reasons the duo cited for the sharper drop was the pandemic-caused closure of child-care centres.

Child-care centres, which often run on tight margins and rely on steep parental fees, couldn’t keep up with costs during spring shutdowns and shed about 35,000 jobs between February and July. Some centres have closed for good.

The worry, Stanford said, is job losses become permanent and more centres close without financial assistance from governments.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said there is a need now for $2 billion to keep the country from losing any more daycare spaces. He called on the Liberals to prove they are serious about national child care.

“There is a desperate need for child care. Families need it, and women particularly need it,” he said Wednesday.

“We need to see a willingness to do the hard work, but to put in the financial commitment as a starting point.”

When pressed for details by Singh during question period in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by noting the Liberals committed to creating a “Canada-wide early learning and child-care system” in the throne speech.

Scotiabank economists Jean-Francois Perrault and Rebekah Young suggested in September that creating nationally what Quebec has provincially would cost $11.5 billion a year.

Their analysis also suggested federal coffers could reap billions in new tax revenue as women in particular would get into the workforce in greater numbers, offsetting some of the overall cost.

Stanford’s estimate is for a boost to government revenues of between $18 billion and $30 billion per year, split between federal and provincial governments.

“This literally is a social program that pays for itself,” Stanford said.

“The economic benefits of giving this first-class care to early-age children, and getting their mothers in the labour market working to their full potential, are enormous.”

Getting those outcomes will rest on how the Liberals design the system, which will need to be done with provinces who have responsibility for daycare delivery.

Kate Bezanson, associate dean of social sciences at Brock University, said the pandemic has been an opening for greater federal-provincial collaboration. Child care may be next, she said, to ensure women aren’t left behind in a recovery.

“We have in the pandemic seen a kind of collaboration across jurisdictions in a way we haven’t seen outside of wartime,” said Bezanson, who also has expertise in constitutional law.

“We should be doing that. We have to be doing that.”

READ MORE: National child-care system would boost women’s job numbers and economy, report says

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Childcarevideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority reported an isolated cluster of COVID-19 cases among non-direct care staff at the New Aiyansh Health Centre. (Gary Fiegehen/Nisga’a Lisims Government)
New Aiyansh Health Centre experiencing COVID-19 cluster among non-direct care staff

Nisga’a Valley Health Authority asking residents to cancel appointments outside the Nass Valley

A photo of the CervixCheck at-home test kit, developed by Eve Medical. (Submitted Photo/Katina Pollard, Métis Nation British Columbia)
Pilot project puts cancer screening into the hands of northwest B.C. women

Métis women experience barriers to cervical cancer screening

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

The Nisga’a Lisims Government has extended its state of local emergency. (File photo)
Nisga’a state of local emergency extended, vaccines delayed

There are 21 active COVID-19 cases in the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read