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

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

Just Posted

The city is considering easing the requirements for neighbourhoods to get traffic calming devices like raised crosswalks installed on their local roads.
PHOTO: City of Abbotsford agenda package
City may make it easier for Abbotsford residents to get speed humps on local roads

City staff suggests easing criteria for roads to qualify for traffic-calming measures

The HOME Society, currently located at 31581 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford, is moving locations after 25 years.
HOME Society in Abbotsford to move locations after 25 years

Move being done to accommodate growth, says executive director

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers and COVID-19 contact tracers must stop, Chilliwack soccer club says

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

Gurkirat Toor has been charged after allegedly pointing a gun at another driver on Oct. 23 in Abbotsford.
Man charged after gun pointed at another driver in Abbotsford

Gurkirat Toor, 21, previously charged with purple-fentanyl bust

The Abbotsford Teachers’ Union stated that local teachers worked without heat on Friday as secondary principals’ and vice-principals’ were at a work-related retreat in Whistler. (Google)
Abbotsford Teachers’ Union says teachers left in the cold on Friday

Abbotsford School District disagrees, saying all buildings were set to 21C on Pro-D Day

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

A racoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Racoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Lawrence Nadessan, 44, was last seen on Oct. 24 at 11:30 p.m. in Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge man missing since Saturday is extremely out of character, family says

Cameras saw him leaving home, not dressed for the weather

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Most Read