In 2019, we lost 10% of our team.
Granted, Stryve consisted of only 10 people at the time — 10% is still 10%.
When one of our team members opted to stay home with their 1-year-old rather than return to work from maternity leave, we felt it. While they didn’t join another agency or organization, we still felt the sting of watching a talented member of our team leave.
We understood their position and rationale. Anecdotally speaking, I personally know a handful of parents who’ve made the same decision to forego returning to work after starting a family. Childcare isn’t cheap. With the monthly cost of daycare being as high as $2600 a month, it’s easy to see why so many parents step away from their careers to be at home. Pandemic aside, getting your child into daycare isn’t as easy as you may imagine.
High Childcare Cost Creates a Lose-Lose Situation
The high cost of childcare and lack of spots available don’t just impact parents doubling as employees. They also impact businesses and the economy as a whole.
For employees considering child care, they’ll need to crunch the numbers to determine whether returning to work actually makes financial sense. From there, they’ll need to weigh the social, emotional, and lifestyle factors, too. When they’re done, they’ll need to look at the impact their decision could have on their career. Unfortunately, pressing pause on their role means pressing pause on their professional development and industry learning. Being away from work also means being away from opportunities to elevate.
Employers lose, too. Like daycare, the cost of hiring and onboarding is steep. One less team member means one less contributor to output and as a result, companies either take on less work or add more to the plates of the remaining employees.
But it doesn’t stop there. When someone with experience, education, and training leaves the workforce, it creates a brain drain of sorts. Here we have valuable human capital opting out of their careers while they could be contributing to Canada’s economy. The foregone salary means a probable decline in consumer spending along with a reduction in taxes for the government to collect.
Lastly, the more parents decide to stay home, the fewer job opportunities there are for those in childcare.
Quebec’s Childcare System is Different than the Rest of Canada
With my wife being from Quebec, I’ve seen how Ontario’s childcare system differs from other parts of the country.
Nearly all of our friends with kids in Quebec resumed work after their parental leave. There, maternity and paternity leave benefits are among the highest in the country and the average daycare cost in a city center like Montreal is $179 a month versus $1934 a month in a city center like Toronto.
Quebec introduced its subsidized daycare program in the late 1990s to encourage women’s participation in the workforce. And it worked. Between the years 1997 and 2016, 85% of Quebec women between the ages of 26 and 44 work — the highest rate in the world, according to a report from Bloomberg CityLab in 2018.
One might think that subsidizing childcare would be a very expensive endeavour leading to higher taxes and government debt. However, Quebec’s childcare subsidy program is zero cost or negative cost. In other words, the Quebec government is making money out of the program. According to Pierre Fortin, the country’s leading expert in the economics of subsidized childcare, “The program is paying for itself.”
Canada’s Federal Government Announced Childcare Subsidies
The Federal government announced in its 2021 budget that there’s a goal to bring a 50% reduction in average fees for regulated early learning and childcare. The aim is to bring the daily cost to $10/day on average by 2026, mimicking the Quebec childcare model. This can be a game-changer for Canadian businesses, families, and the economy. If the cost of daycare is lowered, more talent can be kept in the workforce to help strengthen the economy.
Speaking from firsthand experience, Stryve has been directly affected by high childcare costs. Given the relatively young age of our workforce, we’re very excited to see the proposed changes by the federal government to bring down the high cost of childcare.
But that doesn’t make us exempt from playing a part. Over the years, we’ve put in place new policies to better support Stryvers looking to start families. From flexible schedules to accommodate appointments and wellness, to maintaining certain benefits during parental leave, we’re aiming to make the choice to return to work a bit easier to navigate.