Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Economist sees child care support as critical for economic recovery

“The issue of childcare is this generation’s medicare story, and we’ve got to get it done.”
This was one of the statements from economist Armine Yalnizyan during a recent interview on CBC’s The Current radio show. The expert was discussing economic recovery during the pandemic and warned that without more support for childcare, women could be disproportionately left out of the recovery.
She talked about a she-covery, one which has a focus on getting women back to work and increasing child-care support for working parents.
“No recovery without a she-covery, no she-covery without childcare,” Yalnizyan said on The Current.
New Brunswick is facing this dilemma in its current phase of recovery. While daycares have been reopened with specific guidelines in place, there’s been no increase in support. The majority of New Brunswickers had to continue to pay regular monthly daycare fees while the facilities were closed.
With schools remaining closed, many parents are now faced with double in childcare costs as after school care increased to full-time care and the accompanying rates.
This puts a financial strain on many families, especially families with two parents working and, more notably, single-parent families.
Thus far, New Brunswick has elected to spend the least of any province to help citizens during the pandemic. In an article accompanying her interview on The Current, Yalnizyan spoke of the connection between caregiving and keeping business running:
"We have had the veil lifted on what is the essential economy — and what the essential economy is, it is propped up by the caring economy," she said.
"You can't do it without high-quality care so that you're not worried about 'Are your kids going to get sick at school, or is your parent going to die because they're not fed in the long-term care facility?'"
The longer women are out of the workforce, the longer it will take for them to return, said Yalnizyan. She worries that this recession could reverse decades of hard-earned gains for women in the workforce.
And it's not just about jobs. Women also contribute the majority of household purchasing power at 57 per cent of the GDP. Simply put, women's dollars go back into the economy.
"So with household spending [hampered] because there's less income coming in, the whole economy slows down," she said.
While there’s an aversion to spending in our province during this pandemic, we need to consider the realities we’re facing. We need to make it easier for people, especially women, to return to work or enter the workforce so we can try and revive our economy.
To listen to Yalnizyan’s interview, click here