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86% of Canadians said it is important to them that all Canadian families have access to quality child care regardless of income. 84% of Canadians also said that access to affordable child care is essential for Canada’s economic prosperity.
Ottawa (27 Nov. 2020) — A new poll, commissioned by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), reveals clear public support for child care.
The national poll, conducted by Abacus Data for NUPGE, surveyed Canadians — both those with young children and those without — on the child care crisis and possible solutions.
“Canadians have spoken: child care is essential to families and to a healthy economy,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “With public opinion echoing what we’ve long heard from experts, advocates, and the child care sector on the undeniable benefits of a national child care system, it begs the question: What is the federal government waiting for?”
Child care is important to Canadians
86% of Canadians said it is important to them that all Canadian families have access to quality child care, regardless of income. 86% of those earning less than $50k found this important, while 83% of those earning $50K-$100K believe it's important. Strong support was shown across the country with Saskatchewan and Manitoba showing the highest at 87% and Alberta has the lowest level at 82%.
Politically, 89% of those who voted for Liberals in the last election supported this idea, while 84% voted NDP and 80% voted BQ. Even, 77% of those who voted Conservative believe that all Canadians should have access to quality child care, regardless of income.
Child care is important to the economy
84% of Canadians also said that access to affordable child care is essential for Canada’s economic prosperity. These findings come on the heels of a new report by economist Jim Stanford, which outlines the numerous economic benefits of a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.
On this question, 85% of those earning less than $100,000 were in support of the statement and 90% of Canadians who voted Liberal in the last election supported this belief.
Current situation means we need action now
The poll confirmed what researchers and the child care sector have long known: the patchwork system across Canada isn’t working.
It’s not only the parents themselves that recognize the high cost of child care. 86% of Canadians without children under 12 acknowledged that child care causes financial strain on families. Research by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), most recently in March 2020, has demonstrated that high child care fees in most cities across Canada are unaffordable.
In the poll, 83% of those who voted Conservative in the last election agree that the cost of child care puts a financial strain on families. Those who voted Liberal supported the statement by 90%, while NDP voters polled at 93% in support.
When asked about the challenges facing families in need of child care, only 6% of Canadians thought that the cost of child care and lack of spaces are not current challenges. CCPA research has also documented the prevalence of child care deserts.
Notably, regional variation in the responses on both cost and access illustrates the policy patchwork across the country.
Worried about long-term effects of pandemic
We know that the pandemic has exposed the issues and gaps in the child care system, while making clear just how valuable it is to children, families, and society.
But Canadians are also looking to the future to see what the long-term costs are. 72% of all Canadians are concerned that there may be fewer child care spaces available after the pandemic is over. Yet it's those in the 18-29 age bracket who seem most concerned about the lack of child care access with 80% of these people worrying that there will be fewer child care spots
These results echo what early childhood educators, staff, and providers have been saying. In June, a national survey of child care providers, conducted by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, the Canadian Child Care Federation, and Child Care Now, illustrated the uncertainty facing the sector.
Canada needs a national system that is universal, public
Clearly the status quo isn’t working, so where do we go from here?
The poll finds that only 18% of Canadians oppose the idea of a national, universally accessible, publicly funded child care system. NUPGE and its Components, like so many allies, have been calling on the federal government for a national child care system that is universally accessible, publicly funded, and high-quality, which fairly compensates and supports its workforce. We believe that such a system would ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care, regardless of income, which Canadians have indicated they want.
Child care experts and advocates have done the work of outlining a roadmap for the government to get through the pandemic and towards such a system.
No reason to wait any longer
This poll confirms that the public understands (and is on board with) what experts, advocates, and the child care community have been saying: child care is a win-win-win for children and families, workers and workplaces, and a vibrant economy.
Governments have no excuse, then, not to move forward on implementing a Canada-wide universal, public child care system. As we await the federal government’s fiscal update, Canadians will be watching to see if the Trudeau government is the one to finally deliver on a national child care system.
The survey was conducted with 2,000 Canadian residents, with an oversample of 500 parents with kids under 12, from November 6 to 14, 2020. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.17%, 19 times out of 20.
The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.