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

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

Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross at his swearing in on Thursday (Nov. 26), with his wife, Tracey, left, mother, Frieda, and grandson, Parker. (Ellis Ross photo)
Ellis Ross sworn in as Skeena MLA

Ceremonies happening virtually rather than all in-person in Victoria

CityWest internet and other services are down in Kitimat as of Wednesday (Nov. 25) evening. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Services down for CityWest users in Kitimat

Services were put out due to a landslide cutting a fibre line

The Terrace River Kings lost 3-9 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

The team at Burns Lake Elizabeth Fry Society, who work to support those affected by domestic abuse and violence. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Rio Tinto donates $25,000 to each Kitimat’s Tamitik Status of Women, Burns Lake Elizabeth Fry Society

Part of larger support to those helping women and children experiencing family and domestic violence

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week (Nov. 23) at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Entire gym class at northern B.C. high school isolating after confirmed COVID case

Contact tracing by Interior Health led to the quarantine

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Most Read