Federal government abandons promise of universal access
The federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for early childhood education and child care will meet in Ottawa on Monday, June 12 to sign and release the long-awaited framework agreement on early learning and Child Care.
Parents and child care advocates have been looking to the federal government to honour its electoral promise to create a Framework that will ensure “affordable, high-quality, fully inclusive child care is available to all families who need it.”
However, a document posted on the Manitoba Government’s web site reveals that building universal access for families is absent from the stated objectives of the ten-year federal-provincial-territorial agreement.
The framework document apparently requires the federal funds that will be transferred to the provinces and territories through bilateral agreements be focused on helping only those families “more in need.”
“It is stunning that the Liberal government is not prepared to make universality a long-term goal and to use its federal spending power to build child care systems designed for all parents,” said Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.
“All the evidence, research and international experience tells us that a targeted program cannot meet the development goals we wish for all children regardless of their family’s social or economic status, and additionally such a limited approach will do almost nothing for parents desperate for affordable high quality child care services,” she said.
The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada is also deeply concerned that the framework agreement may not set out a plan to give parents in different parts of the country equal access high quality child care. Instead, the Manitoba web site posting says the framework will allow each province and territory to move ahead in the direction it chooses, each setting its own timetable and measures of progress.
“We have never advocated for a “one size fits all” approach to child care in Canada and we recognize that the organization and delivery of child care falls within provincial and territorial jurisdiction but the federal government has a duty to use its financial resources to ensure all children have access to the highest quality care regardless of where they happen to reside,” said Ballantyne.
The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada will work with its many partners across the country to push for amendments to the framework agreement.
“The framework and the bilateral funding agreements are the result of negotiations behind closed doors without input from the public, the child care sector, or the many other groups who have a direct stake in the outcome,” said Ballantyne. “Now that information about the content is finally getting out there for everyone to see we can show what’s wrong and we are confident that people will take action to get it fixed.”