The time to agree on childcare is now: our letter to the Prime Minister and Premier of Alberta.
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Jason Kenney
Premier of Alberta
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Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Jason Kenney,
On behalf of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the voice of Calgary’s business community, I am writing to urge your governments to come to an immediate agreement on providing quality, affordable, and accessible childcare for Albertan children.
Research and a track record of success in other jurisdictions has made it clear: affordable, flexible and universal access to a 24-hour system of care, increased financial support for low-income parents and training for early childhood educators leads to economic growth, creates and broadens opportunities and expands our workforce. Quality childcare is an investment in the future of our labour market, the next generation of talent and economic growth that is both strong and inclusive.
Childcare increases labour force participation and will accelerate our economic recovery.
For decades, we have known the importance of childcare to economic growth and resiliency, however the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the urgency of this issue. The economic impact of the pandemic has not been felt evenly. With female labour-force participation at its lowest in 30 years, clearly shows women have been disproportionately impacted. In Canada, nearly half a million women who left the workforce through the pandemic have not returned to work, and - more important - over 200,000 women are no longer in the workforce.
Using Quebec’s day care experience as an important and relevant case study, a universal, affordable, and accessible model allows more parents to enter the workforce. Research shows from 1997-2016, the participation rate for Quebec women increased seven per cent, exceeding the national average, which has resulted in increased economic activity and GDP in that province.
As we look ahead to our economic recovery, affordable childcare allows working parents to return to the labour force and contribute to economic productivity and growth. With Alberta’s employment rate lagging behind the national average at 8.1%, we need immediate action to ensure parents are not discouraged from returning to work due to the cost of childcare.
Childcare provides a stronger start for our kids.
Childcare that incorporates elements of early childhood education increases human capital over the long term, as the skills developed in early childhood are critical for permanent brain development. By contrast, poor early childhood experiences predict behavioural and physical health challenges and poor mental health.
In addition to the immeasurable benefits of child well-being, economists estimate every dollar of initial investment in early childhood education returns an additional $0.07 to $0.10 every single year – a considerable return over time.
Affordable childcare is an investment, not an expense.
By increasing GDP and broadening our tax base, other jurisdictions have demonstrated that over time – as good investments do – affordable childcare not only pays for itself but generates a return. According to one estimate of Quebec’s program in 2008, $100 in childcare subsidy from the Quebec government generated a return of $104 for the provincial government, and an additional $43 for the federal government.
To advance a national childcare strategy, we need an agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta. This agreement should include:
A relentless focus on a high-quality curriculum delivered to children enrolled in childcare;
A system that is accessible – at all times of day, areas of the city, and in several languages;
A commitment to a $10 per day average by 2026, with the average cost halving by 2022, achieved through direct investment by both the federal and provincial government;
A predictable, long-term commitment that allows for systemic change, rather than interim solutions;
A system that provides greater support for parents with lower incomes, while incenting parents from all income brackets to return to work;
A commitment to upskilling and credentialling for early childhood educators, thereby supporting retention and quality of childcare delivery; and
A system that supports competitive wages to reflect the value of early childhood educators to our economy.
We need all levels of government to work together to get this right - immediately - for the benefit of all Canadian families, and to ensure the economy of today and tomorrow is inclusive and sustainable.
We look forward to working closely with you, on behalf of Calgary’s business community, to advance our shared priority on childcare, propel our economic recovery and ensure long-term growth.
President & CEO
Calgary Chamber of Commerce
About the Calgary Chamber
The Calgary Chamber is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan business organization. For 130 years, the Chamber has worked to build a business community that nourishes, powers, and inspires the world.
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Government of Canada
Hon. Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, Government of Canada
Hon. Travis Toews, Minister of Finance, Government of Alberta
Hon. Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services, Government of Alberta