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Tackling Childcare Barriers

 Through our experience of more than 20 years of working with women, we know that women living in poverty face many structural and systematic barriers for inclusion in work, education and community. Chief among these barriers is accessing affordable and inclusive childcare. In this project, we will be working with community partners, government and women living in poverty to develop and implement strategies that will address identified barriers. Access to affordable and inclusive childcare can support women's labour force attachment, their capacity to increase economic security and standard of living as well as improve prospects for their children.

Through this project, we have identified three barriers that require immediate attention.

 1. Before and after school care are not addressed within New Brunswick’s childcare policy changes. Current policy changes that provide free childcare to those with an annual income under $37,500 only applies to children from ages zero to five even though school aged children must continue to be supervised before and after school, in the summers and during school breaks. Our research indicates that before and after school care continues to place a huge financial strain on low income families. We know that paying this childcare bill takes away from other areas of basic needs such as utility bills and grocery bills therefore forcing families to make tough decisions around work and family life and compounding the challenges of moving towards security.

2. Currently, policy does not allow social assistance to provide a babysitting rate for grandparents or anyone outside the family that is living in the same home as the children. Canadian women living with low incomes are more likely to remain attached to the labour force if they have family that can meet emergency childcare needs. Assistance from family is a viable way to support women into inclusion. To move towards gender equality, we must recognize the imbalances that women face when trying to obtain work. Women who live in poverty are more likely to work in gendered care or service positions that offer low wages, odd hours, and little job security. The ability to pay a grandparent or a household member a babysitting fee can cushion women from some of the inequalities they face and can be a viable way to create better job security for women (e.g. having a grandparent pick a child up from daycare and care for them for the evening while a woman works past traditional childcare hours). This policy does not consider the financial strain that is placed on families when government expects unpaid care by grandparents and household members. Transporting grand-children, denying work opportunities to stay home and care for a grandchild, feeding grand-children etc. can all work as barriers in the ability to cushion women from the inequalities they already face in the workforce.

3. The lack of inclusive policies in childcare facilities and the discontinuity of financial services create a large barrier for women who have children requiring specialized care. As a part of the new childcare policies that were announced through the New Brunswick Government, inclusion policies in early learning centers will be a mandatory component of designation. We recognize that women who have children with disabilities are more likely to experience challenges in finding appropriate childcare for their children that precludes them from work and will be following policy development closely.

You can also affect change! There is a provincial election in September 2018, make sure your voice is heard!

See here where each candidate stands on childcare.


Lower fees or no fees for childcarePublicly funded, non-profit, universally accessible childcare and education system.
Mandate that all early childhood education centres be incorporated as non-profit organizations.
Continue with the Liberal governments subsidy structure for children 0-5.
Current subsidies for before and afterschool care will continue but fees will be capped at $15/day.
Free childcare for children 0-5 in Early Learning Centers when families make under $37,500. No family will pay more than 15% of their incomes when children 0-5 are in early learning centers. Current subsidies to remain for all other childrenNo plan indicated.No plan indicated.
Fair pay for Early Childhood Educators (ECE)Sufficient wages and working conditions that reflect the level of training, responsibility, and value of work performed.
Increase seats at NBCC for ECE's.
ECE’s to become school board employees and will be provided pensions, benefits, and sick days$28 million investment to support wage increases for ECE’s. Funding will be rolled out over four years beginning in 2019-20 and will raise wages from $16 an hour to $19 an hour for trained ECE’s by 2022-23.No plan indicated.No plan indicated.
Improve and expand access to specialized care for children with special needsNo plan indicatedNo plan indicatedImplement inclusion policy in Early Learning Centers.No plan indicated.No plan indicated.
Expand childcare spacesCreate a centralized database to help families know where spaces are available, and a process to increase spaces in areas of high demand. Make the criteria for existing pre-schools to be accredited as Early Childhood Learning Centres more flexible, and where feasible, locate them within elementary schools.11,000 new before and afterschool spaces.An annual $6 million Infant Operator Grant will be available to offset operational costs of infant care. It will province $10 per occupied infant space per day.
Early Learning Centres will also receive support to help increase the number of infant spaces across the province by 200 by the year 2020
Enhance early childhood development and daycare in rural New Brunswick. Review government programming to end discrimination against private daycare operators.No plan indicated.
Childcare for school aged childrenRaise literacy and numeracy levels to the national average by investing in after-hours programs involving students, parents and community organizations. Universal family focused before & afterschool care in every public school in New Brunswick, wherever parental demand exists. $15 for before and afterschool care or $10 for just one. Current subsidies will continue. Continue with current subsidies for before and afterschool care. No plan for expansion.No plan indicated.No plan indicated.
BudgetUnknown$79.2 million$71 million (bilateral federal funding)No plan indicated.No plan indicated.
*all information gathered from party statements and party websites

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  Saint John Women's Empowerment Network (SJWEN)