United Nations expert Committee asks Canada to make child care affordable and accessible

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women—a body of 23 independent experts—has recommended to the Canadian federal government it take action to make child care more affordable and accessible.

The UN Committee is charged with reviewing whether or not countries are meeting their international commitments under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Canada ratified in 1981.

“The Committee has recommended to the Canadian government that it fix the problem of inadequate and unaffordable child care because it is stopping women from accessing education and full-time employment,” said Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC).

The Committee said that Canada should adopt “a rights-based national childcare framework in order to provide sufficient and adequate childcare facilities.”

“The Committee’s message to the government of Canada is especially timely since there are federal/provincial/territorial discussions on child care underway,” said Ballantyne. “The recommendation is precisely in line with the shared framework agreement child care advocates have been calling for.”

The UN CEDAW Committee noted that Canada’s federal government has an obligation to “take necessary legislative measures to give full effect to the Convention on discrimination against women,” and to “provide leadership to the provincial and territorial governments in that context.”  Further, in its report, the Committee “recommends that the [Canadian government] consistently starts using conditional and targeted federal funding in order to make sure that transfer payments to provinces and territories take into due account compliance with the provisions of the Convention, as is already the case for some of Canada’s development assistance programmes.”

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