What Canadian Child Care Providers Think About a Universal Childcare Program (Survey)

On September 23rd the federal government shared its intention to roll out universal childcare across the country. We asked members of the early childcare community in Canada for their perspectives. 

The data provided here is from 200 survey respondents. This includes Owner/Operators, Directors, Teachers, and those who identified as Other Childcare Professionals. 

  • 84% of respondents were in a favour of a universal childcare program.
  • 78% of respondents believe that a universal childcare program will have a positive impact on their business.
  • Respondents were split in terms of their confidence level on if a universal childcare program will actually happen.
  • Pay equity and benefits are the #1 thing that members of the early childhood education community want in Canada’s universal childcare program. 

84% in favour of a federal universal childcare program

When asked if they were in favour of universal childcare, 86% of teachers, 91% of directors and 90% of other childcare professionals were in favour of a universal childcare program. 

Childcare Owner and Operators not as favourable about universal childcare

Childcare owner/operators were less in favour with only 66% stating they were in favour of a universal childcare program in Canada. 

Of the 33% of childcare owners who are not in favour of a universal childcare program 92% cited that this would have a negative impact on their business.

78% of respondents believe that a universal childcare program will have a positive impact on their business

The majority of respondents cited that if rolled out this would have a positive impact on their business. The biggest difference in sentiment was seen in owner/operators where only 60% believed that this change would have a positive impact. 

Confidence of a program being rolled out differs with some skeptical, some on the fence, and others optimistic

Respondents were asked to rate from 0% to 100% on how confident they were that a universal childcare program would be rolled out. Respondents were split in their sentiment regarding the probability of rollout. 

  • 27% are skeptical and have a very low level of confidence in a program being rolled out (0 to 30% confidence rating)
  • 45% are on the fence and have medium confidence in the government rolling out a program (40% to 60% confidence)
  • 27% are optimistic with a confidence level of over 70% and only 4% of all respondents have 100% confidence that a universal childcare program will be rolled out.

Skeptics in the childcare industry say ‘we’ve heard this all before…”

When asked why they were not confident in a program being rolled out, 54% shared that ‘they’ve heard this all before’ and cited previous promises made and not delivered surrounding universal childcare in Canada. 

“It has been promised in the past and nothing ever came of it.”

18% of skeptics cited that their lack of confidence was driven by uncertainty around how or if a federal program could be implemented due to the complexity. Many spoke to a concern around government knowledge and/or experience in early childhood education industry. 

“The early learning field is complex with many different types of service being provided. It will be extremely challenging to find a model that fits everything…”

16% of skeptics cited that they doubted funding and questioned the ability of the federal government to afford a universal childcare program. 

“The government does not have the financial capabilities to roll out this program.”

Those on the fence state their lack of confidence in government followthrough is their biggest driver of doubt

48% of respondents who had a medium confidence level in a program being rolled out, shared that they questioned the followthrough on the government in delivering and executing a plan. Many stated how they had ‘heard this before’ (similar to the skeptics), however, some shared a more optimistic lens towards their skepticism. 

“I hope this will happen however I have heard these rumours and promises for over 20 years.”

21% of respondents who were on the fence cited that the complications of rollout combined with the current lack of details made them feel unsure about a program ever happening. On the complexity side, many respondents cited specific rollout challenges based on their geography, childcare program, and/or role within early childhood education.

“Hard to be confident in something with zero information on it.”

“I fear it’s easy to talk about, but difficult and expensive to do right.”

Optimists state that setting Canada on the path towards ‘doing the right thing’ will take work but we need to fight to make it happen

67% of optimists shared that they think this will happen – because it’s the right thing to do. Respondents shared the benefits they saw from a program in their responses from better equality, to increased quality care. Many called out how difficult this implementation will be but responded that ‘it’s worth it’.  

“Universal Childcare has been proposed in the past, I’m hopeful that this government recognizes the importance of early years education and pushes forward to benefit the children and working parents of Canada. Working parents deserve financial relief.”

“I am hopeful that the Canadian government will create a nationwide system of universal child care, but it will take a long time.”

Pay equity and benefits are the #1 thing that members of the early childhood education community want in Canada’s universal childcare program 

When asked what they want to see in Canada’s universal childcare program, the most popular item was wage equity with 43% of respondents citing fair and equal wages for early childhood education workers was what they wanted to see included in the plan. 

“Better pay for the workers and also working conditions, such as benefits and sick days.”

34% of respondents shared that they wanted a plan that was ‘truly universal’ and provided families equal access to early childhood education regardless of their income, geography, or special needs of their children. 

“Affordable and high-quality early education for all children in Canada.”

15% of respondents asked for a better funding model that is aligned with how their centers operate, the type of care they provide, and provides better equality across centers regardless of where they are located across Canada.

“Funding that reflects the realities of the organizations – some have high facility costs and some have none.”

Other responses included the mention of:

  • 14% want to see professional development and staff training as part of the plan.
  • 11% shared they wanted to see a plan that takes into account the quality of the education.

What do you think of a potential universal child care program? Take our survey to add your voice to the conversation!

Melissa Wood

Melissa is the VP of Marketing at HiMama with a passion for education and building businesses that create a strong social impact. A proud working mama, she enjoys spending her weekends cooking up a storm or going on a road trip with her daughter, husband and dog.

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