Families with young children should have reasonable access to a sufficient supply of affordable, high-quality, and convenient child care, says Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth in a report released just as the drafting of the next federal budget enters the final stage.
The economic advisory council report identifies four demographic groups where an increase in workforce participation could have a significant positive impact on the economy: Indigenous Peoples, lower-income Canadians, women with young children, and Canadians over the age of 55.
The report notes: “In Quebec, women aged 25 to 54 who have children under the age of 16 participate in the workforce at a rate of 93 percent of that of similarly aged men. But in the rest of Canada, the rate is considerably lower, at 86 percent. Raising the national level to match that of Quebec could add $13 billion to GDP, or 0.7 percent to GDP per capita.”
The advisory council says one policy option that would help reduce the participation gap between women with young children and men is “the creation of a universal subsidized childcare program, which not only ensures that quality of service is measured but also makes it possible to distribute benefits on a progressive scale.”