Tell the Tories Day 14: Families need child care, all-day kindergarten

NDP Leader and Education Critic Lorraine Michael

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) says if government really wants to encourage population growth, it should be looking at ways of helping young families – and that starts with affordable, accessible child care.

“One of the biggest barriers for young people considering starting a family in this province is the availability of child care,” Michael said today. “And even when child care spaces are open, the cost is prohibitive for many young workers.”

Michael says she often speaks with people who would like to start their families, or have more children, and she hears the same stories with depressing regularity. Parents pay up to $1500 a month for a space in a regulated child care centre, a cost that for many means either leaving the workforce to care for children or not having children at all – or leaving the province completely to live somewhere that is more family-friendly.

“If we want to have a meaningful population growth strategy, we must have ways of attracting young skilled workers, and of keeping the ones we have,” Michael said. “It seems fairly obvious that making it easier for people to raise children would result in people having more children.”

Michael is a long-time advocate for both universal child care and all-day kindergarten. “We believe that early childhood education should flow naturally into the public school system,” she said. “We know these practical steps have measurable benefits. Quebec, which introduced universal child care in 1998 now has one of the highest female labour force participation rates in the country and has significantly reduced child poverty. Quebec’s program is partly supported by the increased taxes paid by women who can remain in the work force.”

On Jan. 27, in response to the newly-appointed premier’s declaration that he planned to listen to the people, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael started a campaign to remind government of messages the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been trying to send. #TellTheTories encourages people to discuss ways they feel government has been ignoring them.

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