Time to Make Child Care a Priority

As soon as I announced that I was pregnant, the warnings began: Get on the child care subsidy list. Put your name down on as many child care waiting lists as possible. Do it now. Little did we know that there were 16,802 children ahead of us and that a subsidy was well out of our reach.

Infographic_ChildCare-Election-FAAnd we never imagined that the cost for infant child care in Toronto was over $19,000 a year. We asked ourselves how child care could cost three times the amount of tuition fees for a year of study at a Canadian university. And we wondered how families could possibly afford it.

In our case, every extra dollar in our household went toward paying child care fees. We took on extra work. We cut our family’s budget as much as possible. And we continued to wait for a subsidized space.

Our situation is not unique.  And for women who are living in poverty or are single parents, the situation is even worse. We learned that women working part-time are not eligible for subsidized child care. And yet, 70% of part-time workers are women. Many are precariously employed, working evenings and weekends when quality child care is not available. We wondered what happened to their children and whether they were able to find reliable, safe care for them.

We know that affordable child care can provide a path out of poverty and enable women to participate equally in the labour force. And it gives women the opportunity to build strong economic futures for their families.

In the lead up to Election Day on October 19th, join the call for a national child care strategy. Federal party leaders must commit to providing the funding and leadership required to make affordable, quality child care a reality for parents in Toronto and across Canada.

We need child care that reflects the non- traditional working hours of today’s families and that is safe and provides an environment where children can flourish. Our children deserve the best possible start in life. A national child care strategy can help give them exactly that.

#womenvoteforaction

Anne Thériault is a writer, activist and YWCA Toronto supporter.