Support the Creation of Standardized, Affordable Early Learning and Childcare Across the Country
Year over year, one of the most shocking statistics to emerge from our HungerCount report is just how deeply children are affected by low incomes and poverty in a country as rich as ours.
In 2018, and over the last decade, children have made up just over 20 percent of the country’s general population – yet they represent more than 35 percent of those seeking help from a food bank. This means that hundreds of thousands of children rely on food banks each month in Canada. These numbers are not only staggering – they are unacceptable.
Childcare has become so expensive across Canada that many families with moderate to low incomes are struggling. In Toronto in 2018, the average childcare costs per child was well above $21,000 per year.iii
The federal government has made some significant investments in supporting families with the Canada Child Benefit, yet it is clear that more needs to be done to truly reduce the need for food banks for so many children.
In order to make a substantial impact for families living with low incomes, an increased and sustained federal investment in early learning and child care is essential. The links between social and economic policy in this area are clear: every $1 invested in early learning and care will boost the economy in the long run by $2.40.iv
Early learning and childcare, like affordable housing, is an investment in the well-being of Canadians that has real benefits for the country as a whole. Funding and supporting the creation of affordable early learning and childcare has multiple benefits – it supports parents to enter or remain in the workforce and increase their incomes, or to upgrade their education and skills; and it decreases school drop-out rates among children and youth and improves post-secondary educational participation.v
While wide availability of affordable childcare is particularly beneficial for parents facing financial hardships, it is a boon to parents at all income levels. This is especially true for single-parent households who are consistently over-represented in food banks across the country.
In an era when the majority of parents work, with a rapidly changing labour market and a shrinking labour force, it is simply good economics to invest in early learning and childcare.vi
We recommend that the federal government commit to the following to finally reduce the number of children needing food banks in Canada:
We recommend: To develop a National Strategy on Early Learning and Childcare with tangible targets and goals.
The strategy should include a significant increase in federal investment towards the goals set out in the strategy and directly fund and lead the development of accessible, affordable and publicly-funded quality childcare in every province and territory in Canada.
A central focus of federal investment should be on building the necessary infrastructure needed to physically create more childcare spaces.
The strategy should outline affordability benchmarks that each province must respect to qualify for federal support and funding to effectively create national standards of quality and affordability for early learning and childcare in every part of the country.
Food Banks Canada provides national leadership to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow in collaboration with the food bank network in Canada. We do this by maximizing the collective impact of the network, strengthening the local capacity of food banks, and advocating to reduce the need for food banks.
iii Campaign 2000 . Bold Ambitions for Child and Family Poverty Eradication – 2018 Report Cards on Child and Family Poverty. Toronto: Campaign 2000. iv Centre for Spatial Economics . Early learning and care impact analysis. Toronto: Centre for Spatial Economics. v Ibid. vi Food Banks Canada . Nowhere to Turn, Toronto: Food Banks Canada.