Childcare is ridiculously expensive!
Affordable childcare is an essential change that needs to be implemented within Canada. Currently, many parents are overworking to make ends meet, and yet half to an entire paycheque is directed towards childcare fees. As a result, parents are spending less time with their young children due to overworking or are omitting from utilizing the entire year provided by parental leave to avoid a detrimental financial dent caused by the prolonged time away from work. In addition to high costs, the amount of childcare centres is also lacking in cities. Parents sign their children up for daycare months or years prior than expected, hoping to reserve a spot for their child before the maximum capacity is reached.
How can this problem be fixed?
Location impacts childcare fees immensely, with costs in Quebec ($152/mo) being not only the cheapest in all of Canada, but ten times less than that of Toronto ($1,676/mo). My hometown, Calgary, weighs in at just over $1000 a month. If I were to become a parent tomorrow, that would be more than one paycheque. For parents of a lower socioeconomic status, expensive childcare can cause a lower quality of life and higher debt. In some cases, it may be decided for one parent to abandon working altogether and stay at home. However, with this situation, the other parent is forced to often work overtime or obtain a second job. The Parent Trap, a report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) stated that on average, more than 23 percent of women’s yearly income is directed towards childcare.
As a solution, each province could sanction a government-controlled program, which would for more control over rates. Fees could be based on median income of surrounding families for each daycare, placing each childcare centre in the target budget for parents. In addition, to avoid parents travelling long distances for cheaper childcare and to alleviate commutes for families without vehicles, each family will have a designated daycare based not only on affordability, but on location as well. Another solution that some childcare centres in British Columbia are utilizing is a daily rate plan, specifically $10/day (compared to a monthly fee), which would surmount to $217 per month. For Calgary parents, yearly fees would change from $12,000 to $2,604. If this daily rate were to be implemented by the time I become a parent, I could be saving about $9,396 a year. Parents in Vancouver could save up to $12,000 yearly.
Why is affordable and accessible childcare important to feminism?
When discussing reproductive rights and justice, it is assumed that topics such as proper sex education and access to resources will be mentioned. Childcare is often under-discussed. This is possibly due to the fact that childcare does not involve reproductive health of women or men, so it is often left out of the conversation. Although this is true, affordable childcare is an extension, I believe, to the abortion rights and access movement. With childcare becoming more and more expensive, expecting mothers may choose to terminate pregnancy, simply due to the inability to afford it. However, if access to an abortion clinic remains tenuous in some locations and unaffordable, some women may be forced (or even, coerced) to carry to term, and then are placed in the same situation as parents today – being unable to afford basic care for their children and overworking as a result.