Society doesn’t fully appreciate how crucially important those first years are, and how important that parent-child relationship is. It’s not just quality time, it’s quantity of quality time. Children need caregivers who are there, who are not preoccupied by work.
I think we need to really understand that child-bearing families in Canada need a lot more support than they’re getting.
Norway, Sweden and Germany have significantly more generous parental leave policies than Canada. In these countries, parents on leave receive 85% to 90% of their annual salaries compared to Canada’s 50%
Where countries like Sweden and the Netherlands really get it right – and where we in Canada really need to focus our attention – is in reframing early childhood development as an issue worthy of our attention. Canada lacks a national vision.
UNICEF recently released a report card ranking child well-being in the 29 richest countries on earth. Canada came 17th, placing us in the bottom half of the pack on factors such as child poverty, emotional well-being and life satisfaction.
I once interviewed a midwife from the UK who questioned why it is that we are so unique when it comes to birthing in Canada. She said, “it is not like you Canadians have maple syrup coming out of your breasts.” It may not be maple syrup flavoured breast milk that makes us unique, but what does make us stand out is the fact that we are one of a few nations that has so few births attended by midwives.