Women still carry out most of the household and childcare duties within their families and are still paid less than men. These problems are exacerbated when there is a lack of childcare spots or when high fees outstrip women’s employment earnings.
Public early childhood education and care creates opportunities for women to participate in and contribute to our society fairly and fully - through workforce participation, educational attainment, as well as volunteer service, community membership, and enhanced economic participation as wage earners and consumer spenders.
- Alberta has the highest gender-based wage gap in the country at 41 per cent overall. A large part of the reason is that women cannot access affordable childcare and therefore need to turn down promotions or take part-time jobs, which are frequently low wage and precarious.
- 68 per cent of all part-time jobs in Alberta are occupied by women and half of Alberta women working part-time cite inadequate or overly costly childcare as the reason.
- Alberta mothers with children aged 0 to 5 have the lowest employment rates in the country. The proportion of women with young children who are in the Alberta workforce has dropped since the 1990s.
- Alberta women spend 35 hours each week – the equivalent to a standard full-time job – on unpaid work, including childcare, which is double the amount of time men spend on unpaid work.
- Affordable ECEC spaces allow women to participate in the workforce and plan for the needs of their job scheduling. A Quebec study showed that their government’s investment in affordable childcare spaces increased female labour participation by 3.8 per cent or about 70,000 jobs, grew GDP by 1.7 per cent and brought in about $2.2 billion in extra tax revenues on both income and consumption. That’s money that can be returned to social programs that create more fairness for all.
- If unpaid care work was recognized and compensated, we could add an additional 20 to 60 per cent of GDP to the global economy. Creating quality ECEC spaces for each child means that childcare workers (mainly women) are compensated fairly for their caring work and it means that mothers can contribute to expanded economic activity.
- By investing in regulated childcare spaces, we create jobs and enable women to return to the workforce, which increases earnings and productivity, building a stronger tax base, driving up consumer spending and GDP, and acting as a stimulus for the overall economy. It also reduces the economic loss that happens when women are “priced out” of childcare due to high costs and end up leaving the workforce entirely, taking with them years of training, education and experience. Valuing ECEC helps tilt the balance of fairness for caring work and full lives for women.