The story of my family feels typically Vancouver. My wife and I are young professionals who, while not originally from this city, are hoping to stay here. But we’re not sure we will.
We moved to Vancouver 9 years ago. When we were ready to have a family, we decided we wanted to try and make Vancouver work. Two years ago we had our son.
For the first year, we split the parental leave time so each of us could be home with our son for the first year. As the year came to an end, we realized we would have to figure out our next step. Even if we could have found a space, we knew we couldn’t afford child care.
So for six months, my wife worked close to full time while I worked about 50% full time in a flexible, remote job. This way I could look after my son 100% of the time.
This was really unsustainable because I would look after my son all day and work whenever he napped or once my wife got home.
Then we started getting some help. My wife’s work actually pays for someone to come in 3 mornings a week to look after our son. So now, I am able to work Sundays plus 5-6 hours 3 days a week.
This is better, but still not an ideal situation. I am working as many hours as I can and it’s a good job. But it’s not completely in line with my professional qualifications or goals. It requires some professional sacrifice and I don’t think it’s a good long-term solution.
If we left Vancouver, we would go to Sweden, where I’m from. It’s partly about being close to family, but also about both of us being able to work to the extent we want and have daycare for our child. We could find a spot, it would be affordable, and we could control how much we want to work because the system is flexible.
People are always blown away by how generous the system in Sweden is. But it’s not just out of generosity, it’s not a policy that incurs some big ongoing cost on the government, it’s something that benefits everyone.
Child care is a no-brainer public policy decision. It brings down inequality between households, helps to empower women and men to make choices about their work, helps men and women be more financially independent of each other, and it’s good for children.
There’s no good counter-argument.