Ottawa, ON — “As a family of tradespeople, it is extremely difficult to find childcare that accommodates our actual workday,” explained an Ontario-based electrician.
This is just one of many testimonies that was published in the newly released report titled, “National Childcare Program: Making Childcare Accessible for Canada’s Skilled Tradespeople,” and published by Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU).
“We shouldn’t have to get out of the trades just because we have children. Especially single parents. It’s not just about the money, it’s the fact that nobody had the hours available,” said an electrician from Nova Scotia.
In fall 2021, the association conducted focus groups with parents who work in the unionized construction sector and their spouses. According to the report, the focus groups were aimed at gathering information on their experiences working in the construction sector while still managing childcare. It was meant to identify and address any barriers to assist provincial and federal governments to more flexible childcare options.
According to the findings, participants deal with a limited amount of daycare hours that line up with work shifts, long waitlists to access childcare, long-term commitments to one childcare facility that doesn’t line up with work shifts, and a lack of qualified childcare professionals. “Due to barriers in accessing childcare, many tradespeople — and disproportionately tradeswomen — are unable to work or have considered leaving the construction industry altogether. Ensuring childcare services support parents in the skilled trades will create a stronger workforce and enable it to continue to grow, and attract more diversity to the industry,” reports CBTU.
In response to the participant’s grievances, the report listed five recommendations for provincial and federal governments. This includes:
- Earlier and later hours of care
- Shorter waitlists
- Flexible childcare options
- Quality drop-in childcare arrangements
- Raising the age limit
“My current childcare does not open until after I start work. I am always late to work due to this issue and have been confronted by coworkers, who do not have children, that this is unacceptable behaviour,” shared a carpenter from Ontario.
It is often quite difficult too at the apprenticeship level of the trades, with one apprentice carpenter from Ontario forced to choose between work and childcare — “The starting apprenticeship salary doesn’t match the minimum cost of living plus daycare. As a single parent, if I work then I don’t qualify for childcare subsidies — yet to be able to work, I require childcare.”