Improved childcare programs can help reduce labour shortages

NDP Education and Labour Critic Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) is calling on the provincial government to reconsider its position against introducing a universal child care program.

“Parents all over Newfoundland and Labrador have told me about problems they experience in trying to find childcare spaces,” says Kirby. “When parents do find spaces they often have to deal with high costs – upwards of $600 per month for each child.”

“A universal child care program would ensure more spaces are available and that they are more affordable for working families. The program would also go a long way in helping to avoid labour shortages.”

Kirby says Quebec’s popular universal childcare program is a model worth considering. Since the program was introduced in 1997, Quebec has moved from having Canada’s lowest female labour participation to the highest. At the same time, child poverty has been reduced by 50 percent.

Studies indicate that the entire cost of the Quebec system is paid for by the extra tax dollars the province receives from the increased number of women who are able to participate in the workforce.

“The evidence shows that universal childcare has many benefits,” says Kirby. “This is a wise investment that would improve the lives of working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Government should seriously investigate how to best implement universal childcare.”

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