In the wake of COVID-19, there is new appreciation for the importance of child care as an economic, social and fiscal driver in Canada, as well as a growing awareness of how the lack of access to child care has a greater impact on women in Canada. In many respects, the strength of the post-pandemic recovery will depend on getting women back into the workforce. Supporting the child care needs of Canadian families will be critical to achieving that goal. The federal government has outlined its strategy for a national child care program, featuring investments in early learning and child care to ensure that Canadian children have the best start in life. Finding a solution that works for all Canadians will require cooperation and agreement between provinces and territories with differing needs and appetites for change.

KPMG has undertaken a thorough examination of the Canadian child care landscape including legislation, standards, coverage rates and costs in every province and territory. Significant attention has been given to the relationship between maternal employment rates, coverage rates and the costs of child care. Many more women than men have left the workforce because of COVID-19, and lockdowns have placed heavier burdens (such as child care, education and caring for the home) on women. The recovery following COVID-19 will only be harder if continued difficulty accessing child care means women are unable to return to (or exceed) their pre-pandemic employment levels.

Child care is now receiving unprecedented levels of attention across the country. This is the time to take the steps necessary to ensure equitable and affordable access to child care for all families that need it.

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