Childcare crisis: Why Canada has failed its children

Written by BY SARAH SMITH, Special to CNN

Canada is a country renowned for its liberalism. The ideals of tolerance and inclusion have helped foster many exceptional traits. However, considering Canadians are now very concerned about the economic effects of our current, inhumane policy of not having universal, child care in our country, it’s time that the Trudeau Liberals made the right decision and broke Canada’s 11-year-old partisan child care policy for all, so everyone can have access to childcare.

Here’s why:

How the situation in Canada compares with other industrialized nations

The majority of families in Canada need child care for their children.

The current daycare industry in Canada (93%) is in a dire state.

A family has to pay childcare in order to have someone to work alongside.

Childcare is often seen as a luxury item and not valued as a key to professional success, contributing to one in three women choosing not to get employed in their “peak” age years and one in five families leaving their kids behind at home.

Yet according to a 2018 poll, the majority of Canadians polled (57%) thought Canada should do more to provide child care for everyone.

John O’Brien/Ottawa Citizen/Getty Images

In addition, a major joint commission report from February 2017 concluded that universal access to child care was necessary, particularly for low-income families, so that they could be independent, so they could break the cycle of poverty and become active members of society.

You might say we need to “fix the world” , but we still don’t have basic, universal access to child care in Canada.

With that said, what role have Canada’s politicians played?

While current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a few modest and far-reaching attempts, he only wants to find a solution that we can all agree upon. For more than 11 years, no prime minister has successfully attempted to create a viable national child care system; going back all the way to 2006, the Canadian government has made just two attempts at legislation with proposed solutions of our daycare system.

John O’Brien/Ottawa Citizen/Getty Images

“Raising Kids in Canada” — literally just for kids, like in Denmark and Sweden, although in Canada we see it as a way to keep children out of society. Regardless, we have to change this narrative and stop postinguring and reaching across the aisle. We need to put people first and do the right thing for Canadians and children everywhere.

What about American and Canadian immigration authorities? If the American government could admit people from around the world, why can’t Canada have that same welcome policy?

The U.S. has taken a significant step forward with its pending passage of comprehensive immigration reform. The majority of Americans (63%) approve of the changes. As a Canadian, I am looking forward to the day when my two young children can have their basic human right to adequate child care while we are here, no questions asked.

Sadly, despite recent progress, we may not be able to look forward to that day, if we remain stuck in our partisan ruts and fail to act — so now is the time for Canada to cut its political ad hoc corners and show true leadership.

Sarah Smith is founder and CEO of the TradeTech Center, a tech-driven nonprofit that is transforming children’s lives through the transformative technology that smart trade fairs leverage to promote sustainable trade. She is on the Canadian and Canadian Americans for immigration reform advisory board of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank and lobby with offices in Washington, DC.

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