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Canada’s Child Care Policy Needs to Keep Up With Challenging Times

Cardus calls for prioritizing kids, serving the diverse needs of families, and equitable funding in child care


September 8, 2020

OTTAWA, ON – Just as families have done their best to adapt to new challenges in 2020, so too must the federal government as it adjusts its child care policies and commitments. In Child Care in Post-Pandemic Canada, think tank Cardus recommends federal child care policy-makers adopt three key principles as they look beyond the immediate pandemic crisis. Canadian child care policy should:

Prioritize children’s well-being

Framing child care as primarily an economic tool risks placing the best interests of children at a lower priority and ignores reliable, peer-reviewed research on child care and children’s development.

Acknowledge families’ diverse situations and needs, which shift over time

Policy-makers need to recognize and affirm the full range of child care choices and options for all families beyond just paid, licensed care.

Provide equitable access to funding for all families within a comprehensive and flexible family policy

Parents must not be forced to choose between funding availability for a one-size-fits-all system and the unique needs of their child or the specific situation their families face. Families need more affordable options, not fewer.

Cardus also released two case studies showing how pandemic lockdowns amplified inequitable child care funding and policies in Ontario and British Columbia. The Ontario case study and the British Columbia case study are both freely available online.

“When the federal government renews its multilateral child care agreements with the provinces, I hope it will put kids first, affirm the full range of child care choices, and make funding equitably available,” said Peter Jon Mitchell, family program director at Cardus. “The nature of work is changing and how we provide care for families needs to change as well. Parents need flexible options that a one-size-fits-all system will not be able to deliver.”

Child Care in Post-Pandemic Canada is freely available online.

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