Questions and Answers

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Thursday September 29 2016

What is CUPW’s Child Care Fund for and how can it work for you? Find the answers to members’ most common questions about the fund here.

 

In 1995, CUPW negotiated the right to control and administer a $2-million Child Care Fund. The Fund helps members who have the most difficulty finding and affording good child care:

  • early-morning, night and evening shift workers
  • part-timers
  • those living in rural and remote areas
  • workers with older children or children with special needs

Negotiations for cost-of-living increases will ensure that the Fund's projects remain available to the members and continue to grow.

By 2010, Canada Post was making quarterly deposits of $324,000 into the Fund. Today, the Fund is $2.5 million dollars.

  • To help members who have the most difficulty finding or affording high-quality child care. This includes members who work irregular hours, live and work in rural and remote areas of the country, need infant care, have children with special needs, or require summer care for school-age children.
  • To work with our allies in the child care community to create high-quality, non-profit child care services for postal workers. This includes creating innovative child care services, such as those that meet the needs of shift workers, and making existing good-quality services more available and affordable.

The Fund is used for projects that provide child care services to postal workers. It also funds child care information programs, needs-assessments and research.

The union has ten Child Care Fund projects across Canada and Québec. All of them are community-based and non-profit, and they all accommodate children with special needs. Each project provides at least one of the following services:

  • Child care centres that accommodate irregular hours of work
  • Licensed care in the home of a caregiver to accommodate early-morning and late-evening child care needs
  • Short-term emergency child care for members whose child care arrangements break down unexpectedly
  • Information on child care
  • Two national projects across Canada and Québec for parents of children with special needs or disabilities and adult sons and daughters with special needs or disabilities
  • Members and their dependent children (including children with special needs)
  • Members with adult sons and daughters with disabilities who are dependent on parents for care
  • Members who provide primary financial and residential support for their grandchildren

The Child Care Fund has helped some CUPW families find affordable, high-quality child care. But the truth is that we would need a fund fifty times the size of the one we currently have to meet the diverse child care needs of all our members.

Setting up work-related child care services is only part of the solution to our child care problems. What we really need is a national child care system like those in other industrialized countries.

High-quality child care should not be a privilege for children of wealthy parents, nor a welfare measure for the children of low-income parents. It should be available and affordable to everyone. Unions fought for many of the social programs we value today, and they have a role to play in ensuring that we have programs like child care in the future.

One of the best ways we can do this is by working with groups that are fighting for a child care system that meets the needs of all parents. Groups like the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada have been advocating for a national child care system for more than thirty years. Their goal is to push for a universal, inclusive, comprehensive, high-quality and community-based child care system that is accessible and provides early learning and development opportunities for ALL children.

The union remains committed to fighting for a national child care program by working with local, provincial and national child care advocacy groups.

There's no question that we as a society are facing a serious child care crisis. For example, only 24% of preschool children currently have access to regulated child care in Canada. This means that over 75% of our children are in unlicensed, unregulated child care where there is little if any oversight.

There is simply not enough high-quality, affordable child care. Only a national child care policy or specific national legislation on child care, coupled with a large infusion of government funding, can solve this crisis.

There are several reasons that your union should be involved in child care:

  • Postal workers have a particularly hard time finding good child care that works with their job schedules. This puts added stress on them and their families. It's the union's responsibility to look after our members' social and economic well-being.
  • In addition to child care being part of "good working conditions" in general, child care is a family support. Without it, parents can't go to work.
  • Child care is part of the bigger package of negotiated family supports that help working parents. This package includes child care, paid maternity and parental leave, special leave and provisions regarding elder care.
  • The union believes we have a collective responsibility to take care of our children. High-quality child care for all children is part of building a better society. Historically, CUPW and the rest of the labour movement have fought for social programs and public services like health care and public education that benefit ALL members of society.

This wouldn't be effective for a number of reasons:

  • Unfortunately, there just isn't enough money in the fund to support all members' child care needs. For example, a flat-rate entitlement would only come out to about $10 per month for one year for all the children under 12. And child care subsidies are taxable, so parents would get even less value for money if we did it this way. We would also have no way to evaluate whether members' families had been helped substantially or to ensure that money was spent on child care expenses.
  • Giving members money directly from the fund would promote child care as a consumer item instead of a valuable public service. This would weaken our ability to move forward collectively on child care and the union's role in negotiating and providing education on child care issues.
  • With money going to programs specifically designed to meet our members' families' needs instead of to individuals, we can help to create and sustain high quality child-care services for postal workers in the long run. This option gives the best value for money.

No. Members are always free to make their own arrangements to meet their child care needs. But there simply aren't enough high-quality child care services to go around. The union is trying to increase parental choice through the Child Care Fund.

The union feels it has a responsibility to both support high-quality child care services and to help members gain access to and afford those services. The Child Care Fund ties these two obligations together. It supports the creation or expansion of high-quality child care services in the community through the projects it funds, and provides subsidies for project services.

No. The union is not making judgments about individuals' child care arrangements. Research on child development has found that regulated, non-profit child care services tend to be high-quality for the following reasons:

  • They must conform to basic, minimum standards of quality set by each province.
  • All the money these programs receive goes back into them, to improve the quality of the programming and to wages and working conditions of caregivers (instead of making profits for operators).

We often support issues that might not directly affect us, or might only affect us occasionally or during a specific period in our lives, because they have a broader positive social impact (for example, publicly funded education, health care and pensions). Supporting high-quality child care is no exception:

  • It benefits all of us because the long-term impact of good child care on children is enormous. They stand a much better chance of growing up to be adults who make a positive contribution to society instead of adults who need social and economic supports such as welfare, policing, social services and prisons.
  • Most of us will become parents or grandparents at some point and be directly affected by child-care issues. Those of us whose children are grown can probably remember the child care problems we faced and how our families could have benefited from a provision like the Child Care Fund.
  • We know that as workers every bargaining inroad we make benefits us collectively in the long run because it increases our solidarity to take on other issues in negotiations.