The national success of this petition is a further signal to the government that child care is an issue that cannot be ignored
Amanda Munday is the marketing manager at HiMama, an app designed for early childhood professionals to communicate with parents, but this week she’s a child care advocate who traveled to Parliament Hill representing a group of parents calling themselves the Toronto East Enders for Child Care (TEECC).
Munday is the mother of two small children, ages three and one, and it’s her frustration with being on a Toronto child care waitlist for four years that drove her and other parents in similar situations to launch an e-petition calling on the federal government to make Canada’s licensed early education programs more accessible and affordable. Within just three days of posting the petition, it garnered enough signatures from across Canada to be tabled in the House of Commons.
Julie Dabrusin, Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth, who has supported the petition publicly, will be speaking on the petition in the House of Commons on Thursday, October 26.
TEECC supporters want a national framework for early learning and child care to be established in provinces and territories by 2018; an increase in the upper limit of the child care tax deduction to $28,000 per year, in-line with current childcare fees in the City of Toronto; and a federal plan in place by 2026 to guarantee quality early years programming for all children through a licensed child care provider.
The tabling of the petition comes just two days after Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, promised improvements to the Canada Child Benefit, which the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC) says will not address the crisis in child care. Echoing the TEECC’s concerns, Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director for the organization, explains that, “the increased Canada Child Benefit is not a substitute for ensuring access to quality child care services, something that families like Amanda’s are grappling with daily in a very real way.”
Advocates have long argued that cash payments to parents and child care subsidies reinforce treatment of child care as a market commodity when it should be provided by governments as a public service.
“If the federal government truly wants to solve the Canada’s child care crisis, the better-than-expected economic performance could be used for the establishment of a national framework for early learning and child care that will bring about real systems-change,” said Ballantyne.
For Munday, Thursday is one of many milestones in working towards change, “As a woman working in STEM in Toronto, I see a disparity between resources for women in the workforce and child care resources. There are so many resources I can access for my career but there are literally no options for affordable, quality and safe child care in my end of the city, and we need to address that.”