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  • 28 Jun 2022 by Kaitlyn O'Neill

    In 2021, the federal government announced a new childcare plan that aspires to reduce licensed childcare fees to just $10/day by 2026. All provinces and territories (except Quebec which already has a similar program) have now reached agreements with the federal government on how the plan will be carried out in their jurisdiction. To learn more about the anticipated impact of the plan on Canadian women, and the Canadian economy more generally, we spoke with Dr. Gordon Cleveland, Associate Professor Emeritus, in the Department of Management, at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Cleveland’s research focuses on the economics of early childhood education, and he has researched and written on topics related to early childhood education for over 30 years.

    Can you provide a brief explanation of the $10/day childcare plan?

    Gordon: The way I describe it is there's the template that everybody has heard about, that was in the federal budget in 2021, and then there's the reality which is more complicated. The template is that as of the end of December 2022, licensed childcare fees across the country, for children ages 0-5 years old, will be lowered by 50%, and there will be a further lowering in March 2026 down to $10/day, with licensed childcare capacity expanding between 2022 and 2026 to meet the additional demand. There are other details in terms of inclusion and services for lower-income families, but that is the basic template. 

    However, in different provinces and territories the childcare plan looks quite different. The plan is implemented by bilateral agreements between the provinces and territories, and the federal government. There's an action plan for each province and territory, which lays out exactly how they're going to achieve broad objectives, and those action plans vary across the country. In some of the Atlantic provinces, part of the childcare covered by the plan will be care for 3-year-old or 4-year-old children during the school day, since generally 4-year-old kindergarten is not provided by the school system. In other provinces, such as Ontario, where there is already full-day kindergarten for 4-year-old children through the school system, childcare fees at every childcare center will be reduced by 50%. In other provinces, the way that they’re implementing the plan is saying we've calculated how much money we need to get an average cut in fees of 50%, and we're going to lower your fees by that many dollars/month. However, if you're currently at a high-fee center, that's a lot less than a 50% reduction, and if you're at a low-fee center that's more than a 50% reduction. 

    How important is the $10/day childcare plan for women and families?

    Gordon: The plan could be very important for all families. Many people have done analyses of the ways in which childcare costs act as a barrier to labour force participation, particularly for women. We know that cutting fees to approximately $10/day will have a big impact on labour force participation, the number of people employed, and the number of hours worked, in addition to having knock-on effects. There will be an impact on women who are of labour market age currently, as well as girls in high school, or even earlier stages of schooling, as it could impact their decision making, and the talents they try to accumulate, as they see that childcare is widely available and low-cost. Therefore, I expect the plan to have an impact on employment and labour force participation right now, but I also expect the plan to have long-run impacts that grow over time, because this is actually a change in the basic institutions of our society. 

    How do you think the $10/day childcare plan will help women recover from the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you think that implementing the plan will help with the current labour shortage in Canada?

    Gordon: In terms of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the effects on the labour force participation of women and the employment of women, are now over. The labour market is back at, or above, where it was before the pandemic. There was a huge dip in participation and employment, which did impact women very strongly, but the pandemic is no longer impacting the aggregate amount of labour in the same way. In terms of the impact of the $10/day childcare plan on labour supply generally, I think the plan will have very substantial impacts going forward. However, there’s a big asterisk here, and that asterisk is assuming that the amount of licensed childcare capacity expands to meet demand. As economists we know that when you lower the price of something, which is what you're doing in lowering the cost of childcare to $10/day, you can expect a big impact on the quantity demanded, for any good, but childcare in particular. So, we know that there will be a big expansion in demand, and almost all of the positive impacts of the plan that we’ve talked about for women and girls, depend on the rapid expansion of capacity. The weakest part of the bilateral agreements between the provincial and territorial governments, and the federal government, is their failure to effectively deal with the rapid expansion of capacity. 

    Those problems were central to Quebec, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they began to roll out their $5/day childcare program. They didn't have enough capacity and they've been scrambling ever since to expand capacity. So, we should know that this is a big problem, and the difficulty is that you don't really get the strong labour force impacts and changes in women's role in the labor force, unless that expansion of capacity does occur. 

    Do you think that the impact of the $10/day childcare plan will differ by province/territory?

    Gordon: Yes, and for a number of reasons. In some cases, there will be structural or taste factors that make it different. We would anticipate that in Nunavut, the impact may very well be different than it would be in Ontario. Maybe parents in Alberta are more cautious about licensed childcare programs, maybe in Ontario licensed childcare programs have become very popular over the years and there are no barriers to using them, on the part of most parents, and they’re regarded as good quality. 

    Further, there certainly will be differences, based on differences in the roll out of the program. Some of the provinces and territories, particularly those in the Atlantic region, have promised that their coverage rate (licensed childcare spaces divided by total population of children ages 0-5) at the end of 2026 will be 59% of children. That means that if 59% of children ages 0-5 in the Atlantic region wanted to use childcare they could. We know that children zero years of age often aren’t using childcare, since their parents are on maternity and parental leave. So, enough capacity for 59% of children 0-5 years of age will be a lot of capacity in the Atlantic region.  However, other provinces have targeted a total coverage rate of only 30-40% by 2026, so childcare spaces will be scarce. 

    Another reason that the impact will differ by province and territory is that different provinces and territories bargained for different age ranges. In Manitoba if you're 6 years of age you're covered by this agreement, in other provinces, if you’re 6 years of age you’re not. Maybe, in the future all of these differences will work themselves out, but at least in the initial period, there will be differences based on different amounts of capacity, age ranges, and institutional arrangements. 

    What are some of the complementary policies that provinces/territories must implement for the $10/day plan to be effective?

    Gordon: There are two complementary policies that provinces and territories need to implement for the plan to be effective: (i) expansion of capacity and (ii) parental leave and benefits. I calculated how many childcare spaces Ontario would need with a 50% reduction in fees, as well as when childcare fees are reduced to $10/day. My calculations, based on estimates of demand that I've made for Ontario, are that Ontario would need an additional 200,000 spaces to cover all of the extra demand that would occur if childcare fees were reduced by 50%, and Ontario would need an additional 300,000 spaces by the time childcare reaches $10/day. We have about 300,000 licensed childcare spaces for 0–5-year-old children right now in Ontario, so that means that by 2026 we will have to double our capacity to serve all of the additional demand. 

    How many licensed childcare spaces are we planning to add in Ontario by March 31st, 2026? The answer is 76,700 spaces. That's a lot less than 200,000, and a lot less than 300,000. If there isn’t a complementary policy that dramatically expands capacity, there are going to be huge waiting lists, and we won't get all of the benefits from the plan that are expected. Another issue that goes along with that is that most of the expansion is supposed to happen in the not-for-profit sector and getting expansion to occur in that sector is more difficult. Governments need to be more active in facilitating the expansion of not-for-profit care, and make federal, provincial, and municipal lands available for the construction of childcare facilities. 

    The second complementary policy is parental leave and benefits. We're now at essentially 1-year of leave and benefits for most families, with an option to go up to 18 months of leave if you spread the same amount of money over a longer period of time. As a society, we may decide that it makes sense for nearly everyone to take 18-months of leave, because the cost of infant licensed childcare is very high. So, I think provinces and territories, and the federal government, will have to discuss whether or not it's important to have an expansion of parental leave, and benefits, so most people can afford to take 18 months of leave. The other discussion that has to go on simultaneously is how to make dads take more parental leave. We all know (and good research has been done on this) that if women take most of the parental leave, then women are more discriminated against in the labour market. So basically, you have to have longer leaves and benefits, and much more equal sharing of those leaves between men and women. 

    If the $10/day childcare plan had been in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, do you think that women wouldn't have been hit so hard by the pandemic?

    Gordon: Yes, that's certainly true. A lot of this is history, but it is sexism too. Women have been regarded and treated as sort of the reserve army of labour, the extra labourers that we can bring in when we need them, and that we can send back to the household when we don’t need them. That was a long tradition in terms of women's position in Canadian labour markets, and in labour markets elsewhere. We saw that happening again during the pandemic. Women were pushed out of the labour market first, and they were the ones that were sent home to do the caring, so they were impacted more strongly than men during the pandemic. Women’s position would have been much better if there was a well-established, less expensive childcare system, and a more equal distribution of parental leave, so that men were regarded by employers as equally likely to play family caregiving roles as women are. Both of those things would have meant that women were expelled from the labour market much less than they were, proportionally. Of course, there was also the issue of the transmission of Covid-19 within childcare centers, so childcare centers would have had to do a better job dealing with health and safety issues simultaneously. However, even though that was a problem, the answer is yes, women’s position would have been much better with a $10/day childcare plan.

  • 28 May 2022 by Doriane Intungane

    Advancing women's equality in Canada isn’t just socially responsible; it would add CDN$150 billion to the GDP by 2026. On average, the GDP will grow by 6%, and every province will grow between 0.4% and 0.9% annually[1]. However, the low participation rate of women in some sectors, such as business ownership and investment in public and private financial markets, could slow down the advancement. Increasing women's sector mix and labor force participation are important drivers of an increased GDP. Recently, Shelley Kuipers, a financial leader and CO-CEO of the financial platform "The51", gave us a general overview of women's current and potential future participation in the capital market. She shared some strategies that have helped increase the number of women investing in the capital market and future goals for her organization[2]. The highlight of our conversation follows:


    Please present the work and your organization's goal. What inspired you to create such a platform for women in the capital market?

    Shelley: We are a financial platform explicitly inviting women and gender-diverse people to participate as early-stage investors in companies led or owned by women. The organization was named "The51" because women make up 51% of the population but only receive 2.2% of all venture capital globally. Our objective is to be influential financial innovators and build women's capacity – their financial understanding, literacy, and knowledge about investing, thereby building confident early-stage venture investors. Our goal is to activate CDN $2.5 billion of women's capital by 2030.


    What strategies do you use to increase women's participation in economic growth through capital investment?

    Shelley: We have developed an educational program called the Financial Feminism Investing Lab. There is an investor edition and a founder edition, so the lab offers catered, financial feminist, educational content for investors and founders respectively. It has everything to do with financial literacy, and knowledge about investing and building an early-stage venture with that financial wherewithal. Education is the first strategy; that's where we can tap into women's curiosity. We can help women to build confidence about all things financial, and then they can go out into the broader ecosystem and get activated. Some of them will get started with our organization. 

    Another strategy is giving women the space to have a conversation about the information or the wisdom that they don't yet have, and to access actual peer wisdom across their community. So, it's not about being the smartest in the room; it's about the collective intelligence and the collective wisdom across that community.

    One more strategy we have on our to do list, is to commit some funds to the research of financial feminism in partnership with universities across Canada. This will significantly help us track towards our goal of CDN $2.5 billion by 2030.


    What do you think are the main barriers/ challenges that reduce women's participation in the financial market?

    Shelley: The main barriers are related to the lack of financial literacy among women and communities where women can advance their education. We created a safe environment for women to ask the questions they were otherwise afraid to ask—our investor community. Finally, the current research on financial feminism across Canada is highly insufficient, hindering a fast advancement.  


    How big is your community, and how fast has it grown?

    Shelley: We started our community started with 75 women in March 2019. Today, we are more than 19,000. We have activated more than 125 investors in our program, and those investors who graduate from our lab and go on to become investors in the broader ecosystem; some of them activate with The51. But, most importantly, we are building women’s and gender-diverse folks’ capacity as early-stage investors.


    To conclude, it is worth noting that the rate of women entrepreneurs and those investing in public and private markets are growing. Women-led companies on Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) raised CDN$1.6B in 2021, up significantly from CDN$488M in 2020[3]. Women are getting more funds as investors and making investment decisions based on the Gender Lens Investing approach[4]. The gender lens investing initiative recommends investors consider gender-based factors such as:

    • - investing more in women-owned or women-led enterprises.
    • - investing in enterprises that promote workplace equity (in staffing, management, boardroom representation, and along their supply chains);
    • - or investing in enterprises that offer products or services that substantially improve the lives of women and girls.


  • 19 Dec 2021 by Kaitlyn O'Neill

    Over the past several years, the underrepresentation of women in economics has been brought to the forefront. Newspaper articles such as the 2016 Globe and Mail article Economic Imbalance have highlighted the lack of gender diversity in academic and private sector economics in Canada, while mediums such as the International Monetary Fund’s Women in Economics Blog have celebrated the accomplishments of female economists.[1] Presentations of economics’ gender diversity issue and efforts to overcome it have never been more broadly displayed. 

    The presence of women in the field of economics is important for a host of reasons including the fact that economic policies and decisions impact all members of society. If economists do not reflect the society we live in, how will the interests of society's various groups be accounted for in economic decision-making?

    Three recent papers on gender in academic economics present interesting viewpoints and statistics, enhancing the discussion of gender diversity in the field of economics. The first, Innovative Ideas and Gender Inequality, by Marléne Koffi, studies whether female academic economists are properly recognized for their contributions to the field. [2] The second paper, Women in Economics: Europe and the World, by Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Alisa Weinberger, and Sasha Wilhelm proposes there is a “leaky pipeline” in academic economics, in countries throughout the world.[3] Lastly, Gender, Coauthorship and Academic Outcomes in Economics by Andrew Hussey, Sheena Murray and Wendy Stock, presents interesting results on the circumstances under which co-authorship is not beneficial for women.[4] Each of these papers enhances the discussion of gender diversity in economics, bringing varied and unique perspectives to the issue. 

    In Innovative Ideas and Gender Inequality Koffi hypothesizes that recognition can be an important driver for individuals to enter or stay in a field and focuses her research paper on whether women are being properly recognized for their contributions to the field of economics.[5] Her research suggests that women are underrepresented in economics because their ideas and research do not receive the same degree of recognition as males, thereby lowering the incentive for women to make such contributions.[6] In fact, Koffi found that “omitted articles from references are 15% to 30% more likely to be female-authored than male-authored.”[7] Koffi’s research brings to light a recognition problem in the field of economics, suggesting that properly recognizing the contributions of female economists through citation, could positively impact the number of females entering and remaining in the field.

    Auriol et al propose there is a “leaky pipeline” in academic economics, in their paper Women in Economics: Europe and the World.[8] A “leaky pipeline” essentially means that over the various career progressions, from the junior levels to the most senior levels, fewer and fewer women are present at each stage. The authors used recent data, collected in 2020, in their paper. In America, using a sample of 82 universities (including some business school faculties), the authors found that women held 32% of the junior positions and just 20% of the senior positions in academic economics.[9] In Europe, using a sample of 122 universities (including some business school faculties), the authors found that the representation of women was slightly better; women held 38% of the junior positions and 27% of the senior positions in academic economics.[10] Comparing Canada with the US, the authors found that Canada outperformed the US in its representation of women in senior academic economics positions.[11] Specifically, the authors found that while the representation of women in academic economics overall was similar in both countries, at the Canadian universities in their sample women held 31% of the senior-level positions, and at the American universities in their sample women held only 20% of the senior-level positions.[12] 

    Auriol et al believe the differences they observed across countries and regions, in terms of the percentage of women holding senior-level positions in academic economics, may in part be due to the publication targets placed on faculty members by the institutions they work for.[13] It is possible that women face obstacles obtaining the publication threshold needed to attain a senior-level position at certain institutions, as they take on parental responsibilities.[14] The differences may also be guided by the overall level of gender equality in a given country. The authors ranked the countries in their dataset by the share of women in senior academic economics positions and correlated this data with the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index country rankings. The Global Gender Gap Index measures gender equality in a country, by benchmarking the progression of gender gaps in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment, overtime in a country.[15] The authors found that there was a 58% correlation between the Global Gender Gap Index country rankings and their rankings on the share of women in senior academic economics positions.[16] This correlation displays that there is a positive association between overall gender equality in a country and the share of women holding senior academic positions in economics in a country. 

    Overall, the work of Auriol et al further adds to the conversation on gender diversity in economics by documenting the presence of a “leaky pipeline” in academic economics in countries around the world including Canada, the US, and countries in Europe. The widespread presence of a “leaky pipeline” suggests that academic institutions must better support women not only in obtaining employment in academic economics, but also in rising to senior-level positions. 

    Hussey et al bring an additional perspective to the discussion of gender diversity in economics with their paper Gender, Coauthorship and Academic Outcomes in Economics. The authors used data on economics Ph.D. students to understand co-authorship behavior and how it can influence the obtainment of tenure years after graduation. The authors used a dataset containing data on students who enrolled in the economics Ph.D. programs of 27 American universities in fall 2002 and included annual updates on the students until 2010.[17] The authors found that “women received less credit toward tenure when co-authoring with men or advisors.”[18] The authors further found that while “both men and women benefit from sole-authored papers,” men benefit from having another paper that is co-authored with other males, while women do not receive additional benefit from having another paper that is co-authored with males.[19] The authors believe that this “suggests that men are implicitly given more credit for work done in mixed-gendered groups” and that “one way for women to avoid this tendency in a collaborative environment is to work with other women.”[20] 

    The results obtained by Hussey et al suggest that females may want to avoid co-authoring with males, to ensure they receive proper recognition for their work. However, this can limit the perspective brought to research projects, negatively impacting the advancement of the field. Therefore, greater understanding of the factors driving the results obtained by Hussey et al is imperative. 

                Koffi, Auriol et al, and Hussey et al bring forth timely research that enhances the discussion of gender diversity in economics. Koffi’s work suggests that properly recognizing the contributions of female economists through citation could have a positive impact on the number of women entering and remaining in the field. Auriol et al document the presence of a “leaky pipeline” in academic economics. The existence of a “leaky pipeline” suggests that women need to be better supported by academic institutions not only in obtaining employment in academic economics, but also in ascending to senior-level positions. Lastly, Hussey et al document the circumstances under which co-authorship is not beneficial for women. It is important that the factors driving some of their results be further understood, so that all members of the economics community feel encouraged to collaborate with one another on research projects, thereby enhancing the broadness of perspective brought to any economic issue. 

    Kaitlyn O'Neill, graduate of Johns Hopkins University, is a member of CWEC and currently working at Venterra Realty.

    [1] Tavia Grant and David Parkinson. 2016. Economic Imbalance. March 4. Accessed 2021.; IMF Blog. 2021. Women in Economics. August 6. Accessed 2021.

    [2] Koffi, Marléne. 2021. "Innovative Ideas and Gender Inequality." 1-89.

    [3] Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Alisa Weinberger and Sascha Wilhelm. 2021. "Women in Economics: Europe and the World ." 1-61.

    [4] Andrew Hussey, Sheena Murray and Wendy Stock. 2021. "Gender, Coauthorship, and Academic Outcomes in Economics ." Economic Inquiry 1-20.

    [5] Koffi, Marléne. 2021. "Innovative Ideas and Gender Inequality." 2.

    [6] Ibid.

    [7] Koffi, Marléne. 2021. "Innovative Ideas and Gender Inequality." 5.

    [8] Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Alisa Weinberger and Sascha Wilhelm. 2021. "Women in Economics: Europe and the World ." 2.

    [9] Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Alisa Weinberger and Sascha Wilhelm. 2021. "Women in Economics: Europe and the World ." 9.

    [10] Ibid.

    [11] Ibid.

    [12] Ibid.

    [13] Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Alisa Weinberger and Sascha Wilhelm. 2021. "Women in Economics: Europe and the World ." 10.

    [14] Ibid.

    [15] World Economic Forum. 2021. "Global Gender Gap Report 2021." Insight Report, Switzerland.

    [16] Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Alisa Weinberger and Sascha Wilhelm. 2021. "Women in Economics: Europe and the World ." 18.

    [17] Andrew Hussey, Sheena Murray and Wendy Stock. 2021. "Gender, Coauthorship, and Academic Outcomes in Economics ." Economic Inquiry 4.

    [18] Andrew Hussey, Sheena Murray and Wendy Stock. 2021. "Gender, Coauthorship, and Academic Outcomes in Economics ." Economic Inquiry 1.

    [19] Andrew Hussey, Sheena Murray and Wendy Stock. 2021. "Gender, Coauthorship, and Academic Outcomes in Economics ." Economic Inquiry 16.

    [20] Ibid.