Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister responsible for early learning and child care, laid out the federal government’s plans, priorities, and preferences for building a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care at the start of an online discussion hosted by First Policy Response held May 20, 2021.

Minister Hussen said far too many people are excluded from child care and that the federal government wants “an early learning child care system that is truly affordable from coast to coast to coast, that ensures that no child is left behind, that ensures that women have true true choice”.

The panelists discussed a wide range of topics including the role for local and municipal governments in system-building, the need for expansion of child care to be in the public and not-for-profit sectors, and the importance of a qualified and trained workforce to ensure high quality and inclusive programs. 

Panelist Kate Bezanson, Associate Dean of Social Sciences at Brock University, said the federal government’s recent child care commitments in Budget 2021 will allow Canada to move away from “the postal code social policy that we have right now, where where you live in Canada determines what kind of access you have to child care, how much you pay for child care, and how you access the labour market as a result of those investments made by your provincial government.”

Beverly-Jean Daniel of Ryerson University’s School of Child and Youth Care raised the importance of high quality care for children in marginalized and low-income communities. Access, affordability and quality is “really going to have an impact on their development, on their growth, and their level of readiness for school,” she said. 

Regarding the child care workforce, Diane Daley, CEO of Family Day Care Services, came straight to the point, stating that “compensation, pay, benefits are critical issues for the sector right now. This sector cannot grow and advance in this strategy without at the core addressing this issue”