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As a mother to two boys, Kallisha Hoyes knows universal affordable childcare would be life-changing.

“Working in a job that is often seen as ‘precarious,’ it would be impossible for me to work full-time and still be able to afford childcare in addition to the rent or mortgage, food, and clothing,” said Hoyes, a 1006A steward. “It is very hard and a lot of stress thinking about childcare.” 

Currently, Hoyes’ in-laws, who are retired, watch her youngest son, who is 2, as the eldest one, 10, goes to school. “If I didn’t have my in-laws helping me, my pay cheque would just go to childcare,” said Hoyes. Hoyes is among the millions of Ontario parents, who have been facing astronomical childcare costs for years. 

In Toronto, daycare costs can run upwards of $1,600 a month.

Currently, Doug Ford’s Conservative government is refusing to act on this issue, despite the federal government’s proposed partnership to implement a $10-a-day childcare program in Ontario. UFCW Canada is advocating for universal childcare for all workers. 

“Having universal affordable childcare would make a huge difference in my and all women’s contribution to the work force,” said Hoyes. “It is unfortunate how many women are forced to stay home with their children instead of working because childcare is too expensive. Even families with two incomes find it extremely hard to afford childcare.

Childcare is one of the wide range of issues that women across 1006A are urging action on to make our communities and province better for families. Other issues include universal pharmacare and 10 paid sick days for all workers in Ontario.

For 1006A steward Nancy Prout, the presence of a universal pharmacare program would make a difference for members of her family who have to pay out of pocket for medication. 

“Universal pharmacare would provide myself and my family with what we need to live a healthier and longer life, without financial restrictions and social inequality,” said Prout.

Currently, Prout said her nephew is facing challenges with the costs of necessary medication. “It’s creating a very heavy financial hardship to carry,” she said. “It also leads to difficult decisions when your family member’s health is being jeopardized—decisions no one should be forced to make.”

In Canada, millions of Canadians do not have access to drug benefits, which are often tied to conditions of employment. This means they have to pay out of pocket for life-saving medication.

“I’ve seen first-hand what it could do to a family or a single person who had to take permanent time off from work due to health issues and didn’t have benefits or enough benefits to help them buy the medication that they need,” said Tachani Bishop, a 1006A steward. “I feel, as a country, we all will benefit if we achieve universal pharmacare.” UFCW Canada reports the pandemic has led to the loss or reduction of many drug benefits for workers and in fact, that one-in-four Canadians in 2020 could not renew or refill a prescription as directed due to cost.

As for Prout, she said universal pharmacare would ensure patients can access the same level of care and would eliminate financial barriers.

“Universal pharmacare would ultimately lead to a healthier workplace and to a longer and healthier life expectancy.” 1006A women are also calling for 10 paid sick days for all workers in Ontario.

Valrie Francis, a 1006A steward, said the pandemic has made it difficult for so many women, who do not have access to paid sick days.

“Many women are thinking, if I do become sick, I can’t afford to call in sick and not get paid,” Francis said. “Having 10 paid sick days would be greatly beneficial for women and their families, particularly children.

Currently, workers in Ontario are entitled to three sick days. The program is temporary and set to expire at the end of the year. “Having 10 paid sick days will make a difference for me and all workers, because it is a weight off our mind, knowing that we can take care of ourselves, and keep our workplaces and communities safe. 

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