More accessible and affordable childcare will be crucial in determining whether parents can resume their pre-COVID growth in employment and wages, says a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute.
In contrast to calls for a nationalized childcare system, in Aggressive Incrementalism: Strengthening the Foundations of Canada's Approach to Childcare
, authors Ken Boessenkool and Dr. Jennifer Robson argue that an expanded role for the federal government will not be the panacea many hope for. They propose a raft of reforms that would expand funding and daycare spaces building on structures already in place.
"This aggressive, incremental approach – building on what exists – should not mask the importance or challenge of getting childcare right," write the authors. "We do not have the luxury of time to reinvent early learning and care from the ground up or to waste months, if not years, renegotiating the division of responsibilities in Canadian federalism. We need immediate attention and incremental but aggressive reforms to get this right, for women, for families and for Canada as we emerge from the pandemic."
Among a suite of reforms at the federal and provincial levels, the authors recommend:
- The existing Child Care Expense Deduction (CCED), a regressive tax deduction that reinforces patriarchal gender roles for parents, be replaced with a more generous, progressive and more frequently paid refundable tax credit.
- Provinces redouble their efforts to increase childcare spaces by increasing operating and/or capital grants for licensed providers.
- Existing and any new federal dollars for childcare be consolidated into a single, dedicated and permanent transfer to provinces. This should be focused first on expanding the supply of licensed childcare spaces.
is a Research Fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute. He is also the J.W. McConnell Professor of Practice at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University, and President and founder of Sidicus Consulting Ltd.
is Associate Professor, Political Management, Carleton University.