image Photo: University Settlement Daycare

Two elements are fundamental to the kind of child care
system Canada needs: the wages of child care workers
must reflect the training and responsibility expected of these workers, and the ratio of staff to children must allow for the best possible care for Canada's children.

Teaching staff in day care centres under the current system earn less than workers who look after animals. Their extremely low wages result in high staff turnover, and that's detrimental to the children. There's not much incentive for staff to undertake training, because their educational skills are not rewarded financially.
That has to be addressed in a new, universal child care system.

What would a universal publicly funded child care system cost? Our estimates show that if the system accommodated just 50% of all children under 12 whose parents are either students or working more than 20 hours a week, the cost would be about $4.5 billion (based on 1984 dollars.) But there would be cost savings and other revenues that would offset that, and the money now being spent by governments on child care could be allocated to the new system.

The estimate assumes that wages of day care workers would be in line with those earned by teachers with similar qualifications and experience. That means child care workers would have more to spend on goods and services. They would pay more to the government in taxes too.

The new system would create jobs. That would reduce the unemployment rate and save on UI benefits. Money now being spent on child care by federal and provincial governments (a total of nearly $550 million in 1984) could be redirected to the new system. And parents might be able to contribute something to the cost of their child care.

Photo: University Settlement Day Care

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