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

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
RDN Transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help Nanaimo’s new baseball team look picture-perfect

NightOwls announce partnership with Angela Waldick of Nightengales Photography

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

A person experiencing homelessness in downtown Nanaimo last week. (News Bulletin photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change approach to combatting homelessness

Letter writers express frustration with status quo

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

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

FOI records provided to the News Bulletin from the City of Nanaimo in 2018. (News Bulletin file photo)
Samra’s numerous FOI requests to City of Nanaimo aren’t ‘vexatious,’ privacy commissioner decides

Former CAO says records will assist her in a future B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Most Read