Ottawa Votes: Candidates pushing to make child care an election issue

Ottawa Citizen

Olivia Chow made waves last week when she pledged to put “children and families at the heart of our city.” 

She also pledged to forge stronger partnerships with school boards, which, since the 2010 introduction of full-day kindergarten, now find themselves in the child-care business.

It’s the kind of talk some candidates and child-care advocates wish they were hearing more of in Ottawa.

A coalition of a dozen child-care organizations says city council has taken a “very narrow” view of its role as the overseer of early learning and child care, focusing mainly on how it manages costs and fee subsidies.

“While the Province of Ontario has stepped up for children and families, our city has stepped down,” the coalition says in a recent paper prepared for municipal and school board candidates.

There is also an economic argument to be made for investments in child care.

When parents and caregivers can secure an affordable, reliable place for their children, it frees them up to work, retrain or go back to school. That was part of the provincial government’s justification for introducing full-day kindergarten, but the same logic applies to parents of pre-school-aged children.

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