On this International Women's Day, think again...
Here are ten indications that Canada's lack of action on universal child care continues to have a profound impact on women in all regions of Canada -- across the life span, across diverse groups and across the economic spectrum:
1. If "child care is the ramp that provides equal access to the workforce for mothers"*, Canadian women are on a slippery slope. Although the majority of women with children are in the paid labour force in Canada (about 75 per cent of mothers of three year olds), access to child care is limited and more-or-less static. There are child care spaces to cover less than 20 per cent of 0-12 year olds and for families with infants, toddlers, children with disabilities, in rural and Aboriginal communities, it is even less available.
At the current slow rate of growth, it will take more than 50 years to grow the supply of child care to cover all children. And access to child care can only get worse, as the child population is again growing. Data from the 2011 census show that the 0-4 year old cohort is increasing at the highest rate in 50 years, up 11 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
"Access" also means affordability, that is, parents need to be able to pay for child care. As public dollars for child care are limited in most of Canada, child care programs rely mostly on parent fees. As a result, the median fee for a two year old Canada-wide is $700 a month (with a range from $152 a month in Quebec to $1600/month or even more in some cities).
2. Statistics Canada data show that there is still a hefty wage gap between men and women. This means that women need to work longer and harder than men to earn the same dollar while the data show that having children further exacerbates the gap. A recent Statistics Canada survey shows women earning only 75 per cent of men's earnings. If all employed men and women (not just full-year, full-time workers are included), the gap is even bigger, with women earning only 69 per cent of all men's wages.
Women with children earned even less -- 12-20 per cent less -- than women without children.
And so on.