The Right to Child Care

The pandemic has exposed the failings of the prevailing system of private for-profit child care subsidized through government coffers yet still with large user fees. Quebec's ten dollar a day daycare is presented as better yet how inadequate it is is not discussed. It is a system heavily criticized for not providing daycare workers with the conditions, training and pay they need and demand. Furthermore, it fails to produce enough spaces and forces families to add their names to one waiting list to be put on another waiting list for a daycare space. Human resources are wasted on complicated tax calculations and the fend-for-oneself dictate is not addressed despite the provision of this daycare system. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in Quebec daycare centres have now also become another cause for anxiety.

Consternation has arisen in business circles that the economy, especially certain sectors, will not have enough workers to meet demand in the coming period. They claim the pandemic means the number of immigrant workers and temporary foreign workers that business regularly demands has fallen. The biggest private interests are nonetheless permitted to bring in contract workers unimpeded. Also, many women workers have had to drop out of the workforce to look after their children, either because daycare is not available, is too expensive or the kids have been forced into online learning and require supervision.

Business circles want more women in the workforce. To fulfill this demand, it has occurred to the elite that some form of child care will serve them to get women back to work. But of course, the business elite refuse to pay for the value child care and early learning workers produce and that is a major issue. They want payment to come from government tax revenue and user fees and not in a proper exchange for the value they receive and consume from both the workers freed to work for them in the present and the future workers cared for and educated socially.

Paying less for child care services is a dire need for families who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fees child care currently costs them. However, to believe that under a vicious anti-social offensive whose aim is privatization and the dismantling of all public services this will create public services would be a serious mistake. It is like believing that private seniors' homes look after seniors.

A human-centred child care and early learning system is required which expands the right to education for all from birth to passing away. This requires new thinking to establish unity between aim and practice to serve the people and not the oligarchs. To build a human-centred education and child care system requires physical infrastructure and trained workers and educators.

Building infrastructure to serve the new requires human-centred construction enterprises where the value workers produce is poured back into the system for the common good and not captured in the coffers of the global oligarchs. Training child care and early learning workers in the necessary skills requires education infrastructure. Retaining workers requires conditions of work and pay that ensure their continuing commitment to the work.

A human-centred child care and early learning system could become an example and catalyst to fulfill the dream of the right to education for all and even the right to housing for all. This could result from the creation of permanent human-centred public construction enterprises across the country to build and maintain infrastructure without oligarchs sucking away new value from what construction and other workers produce.

Only the concerted collective actions of families and communities to affirm their right to child care will provide the people with what they require. The people of Canada must set the standards and make sure they are enforced. Any other approach will be to mark time, which Canadians cannot afford to do.

This article was published in

 April 22, 2021 - No. 31

Article Link:


Website:   Email: