The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has proposed an alternative federal budget for 2022 entitled Mission Critical that sets out a comprehensive program to bring about a just and equitable recovery. The proposed budget says building a publicly funded and publicly managed Canada-wide system of early learning and child care is urgent and critical.

The Alternative Federal Budget sets out how the $30 billion allocation for early learning and childcare in the 2021 federal budget could be used to transform how child care is planned and delivered in Canada. The Alternative Budget argues for the direct funding of childcare services instead of funneling public funds through parent fee subsidies. 

The best way to reduce parent fees (and even eliminate them entirely for low-income and eventually all households) is to provide service providers with adequate operating funds. This is also the best way to secure high quality, fully inclusive programs and to ensure proper wages and other compensation of those who work in the sector. 

The alternative budget also calls for publicly planned and managed expansion of regulated not-for-profit and public services to increase access to programs. The only way to make sure underserved communities and populations have access to programs is to make the supply of child care a government responsibility. 

The Alternative Federal Budget calls for increases in federal funding to support the capital costs of building a child care system. Child care advocates are concerned that the 2021 federal budget does not provide sufficient funding for new construction or retrofits. However, capital assets funded by the public must be publicly owned and controlled. 

The Alternative Budget says a Canada-wide approach to data collection and research is key to building a child care system. Also, governments must be publicly accountable for setting and meeting timelines and targets.

The Alternative Budget says transforming early learning and child care must be guided by the democratic participation of children, parents, educators, advisory groups, advocates, employers, researchers and academics. The Alternative Federal Budget states that this participation should be resourced by long-term organizational public funding for the work of the child care advocacy movement.