Women still carry out most of the household and care duties, including childcare, 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.
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.
- In 2017, Alberta women earned $0.75 for every dollar earned by men.
- Sixty-eight per cent of all part-time jobs in Alberta are occupied by women and almost half of Alberta women working part-time cite child care as the reason.
- Alberta mothers with children aged 0 to 5 have the lowest employment rates in the country. We also have the highest proportion of stay-at-home parent families in the country.
- 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.
- The gender employment gap is higher in places with high child care fees. Alberta has the largest gender employment gap in Canada.
- 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.
- The Conference Board of Canada finds that every $1 spent on expanding early childhood and education to the OECD average would yield $6 of economic benefits.
- 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 child care 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 child care 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.
- In an evaluation of the $25-a-day Early Learning and Child Care Centres, parents reported having greater freedom of choice for career, work and school arrangements — meaning, women were empowered to choose full or part-time work, seek additional education, volunteer in their communities and start businesses. The reduced financial burden allowed families greater financial security.
But now with the UCP government in power, Premier Jason Kenney has offered absolutely no plan on child care. The UCP platform released on March 30, 2019 offered zero explanation of their plan for child care. When asked, his position on child care in follow-up interviews, Jason Kenney has said the UCP will “maintain current child care supports and create new spaces by cutting red tape on operators, while not jeopardizing safety.” It begs the question: what regulations can be cut that will not jeopardize the safety of our children.
We are calling on the government to support a strong economy that includes women to:
- Recognize the positive impact access to child care has on women and gender equity.
- Expand access to high-quality centre-based child care.
- Create a concrete plan with clear timelines to build a universal system of early childhood education and care in Alberta.