National Council of Welfare

Conseil national du bien-être social

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WELFARE CALLS FOR A NATIONAL CHILD CARE PROGRAM

             Next year's federal budget must mark the beginning of a national
child care program says the National Council of Welfare in a report
released today. Preschool Children: Promises to Keep recommends an
integrated family policy that pulls together all government policies
that affect families - and a substantial investment in child care from
the federal, provincial and territorial governments. A children's budget means a budget that would keep the promises
governments have made to children and one that would redirect several
billion dollars in federal money to new and improved supports to
families with children. It means major new federal spending on a
child care system that combines early education with care that supports
parents in the work force. "Many social programs support families, but child care is the
backbone of them all. Child care has been shown over and over to be
the essential ingredient for the work force participation of parents -
and especially mothers. When child care is high quality, affordable and
accessible, it can be the centre of many other supports for families.
But without a strong system of child care, many families just can't
participate in the job market. When parents can't find work, other
family services are left picking up the pieces and trying to repair
the damage that poverty causes." It is in everyone's interest to make sure that children get the best
possible start in life. More families than ever before depend on the
wages of mothers to bring their incomes out of poverty. It is clear
that strategies to support the work of mothers - especially young
mothers - are vital to helping all families to support themselves and
vital to ending child poverty. Child care is key to supporting the
employment of mothers while ensuring that children have the opportunity
to benefit from high-quality early childhood education. -2- The Council proposes phasing in a child care system on a year at a
time basis beginning with care for five-year olds. The full cost of the
system would be $7.9 billion a year once it is serving two- to five-year
olds. Parents would cover 20 percent of the costs. The federal government
would cover 55 percent and the provinces and territories would cover 45
percent of of the rest of the costs. This ensures that children in all
provinces and territories can benefit from this important service. Supporting families will take efforts in many areas. The Council also
recommends an increase in minimum wages, the creation of wage supplements
to parents in the work force, stronger and better enforced employment
equity and pay equity laws, increases in maternity and parental leave
and increases in welfare rates. "There is no single solution to ending child poverty," said John
Murphy, the chair of the Council. "But it is in everyone's interest to
make sure we find the resources and creative solutions to give children
the best start in life." For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: National Council of Welfare 1010 Somerset Street West, 2nd Floor Ottawa K1A 0J9 phone (613) 957-2961 (613) 957-0680
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