Why isn’t child care affordable for all Canadians yet?
For nearly five decades, no politician outside of Quebec has comprehensively addressed the matter
Written by Mab Oloman
Published in THIS Magazine, November 3, 2016
Mab Oloman’s interest in child care emerged when she became a parent in 1976. Mab thought it would all be fixed by the time she became a granny, but today the child care crisis is even more desperate.
As I sat down to write this, I found myself thinking about the many aspects of child care that matter to me—from my abhorrence of the trend to “schoolify” very young children to my deep belief that child care should be an affordable not-for-profit publicly supported service. But my overall frustration is that for nearly five decades, politicians of all stripes have used child care to gain political points during both federal and provincial election campaigns but so far none of our governments, except Quebec, have been brave enough to comprehensively address the matter.
Since 1970, when the Royal Commission on the Status of Women proposed a national day-care act, it has been a two-steps-forward, one-step-back dance. On International Women’s Day in 1986 Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government released the “Report of the Task Force on Child Care.” That report, initiated by the previous Liberal government, called for “a universal system of child care, co-funded by federal and provincial governments.” It recommended a system of nonprofit services, designed and managed by the provinces, guided by national standards. The system would be affordable and enhanced through a gradual increase in supply until 2001 when it would serve all children