CHILDCARE 2020 conference report

childcare-logoCUPE 3909 is comprised of academic student and sessional workers, some of whom are also parents struggling with locating regulated child care in Manitoba. The deficiencies in the availability of quality child care impacts the ability to work and study effectively and as such CUPE 3909 supports the increased availability of child care on our campuses. Recently I had the distinct pleasure and honour of representing CUPE 3909 at ChildCare 2020 conference. ChildCare 2020 was hosted at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg from November 13-15 and was the first national child care policy conference in 10 years and only the fourth in Canada’s history. The goal of the conference was to renew action on early learning and child care in Canada. Over the three days, attendees discussed the need for a national child care program which is non-profit, accessible, affordable and high quality child care for all Canadians.

During the conference, there were a number of plenary sessions, most notably, an opening address by Premier Selinger who spoke to the provincial NDP’s commitment to the universal and accessible child care for Manitobans. Following Premier Selinger’s opening address the key note speaker Stephen Lewis spoke passionately to the ineffectiveness of income splitting and recent tax credits having nothing to do with child care. He spoke to the need for early learning and care that is inclusive and highlighting that child care speaks to the fabric of our nation.

The conference proceeded with a number of mini-plenary and workshops exploring child care in Canada, including who is responsible for child care? How do we pay for child care? How to move the movement forward? to name a few. The conference also took great strides in identifying common misconceptions regarding universally accessible child care, such as the economic consideration. For example some believe a national child care system would simply be too expensive and require large tax increases to cover the costs, when in fact research from Quebec which currently has $7 a day child care, found that for every dollar invested in child care the economy sees up to a $1.75 return through increased participation in the workforce and the creation of jobs. Research also demonstrates that the amount the current federal government’s income splitting scheme, which provides over 85% of Canadians without any kind of return, could cover the cost of child care for any and all Canadians who need it.

Another notable session of the event was a speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Mulcair and a video message from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. It is important to note that invitations were sent to the Conservative party however, no one chose to attend. Thomas Mulcair reiterated his party’s recent announcement for the provision of $15 a day child care to be rolled out over two terms. Justin Trudeau spoke to the importance of the gathering and the liberal party’s commitment to family, however, no promises regarding child care were made.

Overall, the conference highlighted the reality so many of our members are facing: inaccessible, expensive and questionable child care options. It is time for child care to be made a priority and for development of a national program that provides universal, non-profit, accessible and high-quality care for our children, the future of Canada.

Click here for more information on ChildCare2020.