Madam Speaker, I will start by sharing the story of Sandy, a constituent of mine. She has a really good education, but her struggles are those of many Canadians around the world. She gave up her career to start a family, and she continued to stay away from her career because child care in Ontario was too expensive and the waiting list was too long. Now, as her children are age five and seven, she finds herself living in a shelter, because she does not have housing as she tries to flee from an abusive marriage. She is now working part time while staying at this transitional house for women just like her. She is looking for housing and a stable job, but because of COVID, the situation of schools, and everything becoming so precarious, it is so hard for her to get into that workforce. The jobs that she does find are precarious, part-time and minimum-wage.
Women, in particular low-income women, have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. They have faced steep job losses and shouldered the burden of unpaid care work at home. All the while, many have bravely served on the front lines of this crisis in our communities. There is no doubt that we remain firmly in a “she-cession” as lockdowns continue to impact our communities and many Canadians stay at home to stem the spread of an even more aggressive third wave.
I have heard from businesses in my riding about what would ensure the health of the economy of a city like Mississauga, a province like Ontario and, indeed, a country like Canada. For example, the Mississauga Board of Trade in my city has been quite clear: We need to have increased labour force participation. We need to have an empowered labour force of people who are willing, able and eager to contribute to our economy, to empower themselves and those around them, and to bring financial stability and economic prosperity, not just for themselves and their families but for all Canadians. Based on that feedback, our government has a plan through budget 2021 to emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more inclusive society. Increasing opportunities for women's participation in our economy is at the forefront of our growth and recovery plan.
As I mentioned, the closure of schools and child care centres due to COVID-19 has really exacerbated work-life balance challenges for parents, and especially for women. It has made it more difficult for some women to work full time or, in some cases, such as Sandy, at all. More than 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force completely, while the male labour force has grown by about 91,000. Child care is an essential social infrastructure and without it, parents, particularly women, cannot fully participate in our economy. Parents have told me this. Businesses have told me this. Single mothers have told me this.
This is an economic issue as much as it is a social issue. TD Economics has pointed to a range of studies that have shown that for every dollar spent on early childhood education, the broader economy receives between $1.50 and $2.80 in return. It is a sound investment. We can simply look at the impact of Quebec's early learning and child care system, where women in the province with children under the age of three have some of the highest employment rates in the world. Further, a study shows that child care alone has raised Quebec's GDP by 1.7%.
It is clear: Now is the time for the rest of Canada to learn from Quebec's example, and this is exactly what our government is proposing to do through budget 2021. We are making generational investments of up to $30 billion over five years to work with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based system of quality child care, bringing the federal government to a fifty-fifty share of child care costs with provincial and territorial governments and meeting the needs of indigenous families.
Our government's plan includes a strategy for unprecedented expansion in child care across the country. This proposed investment would also be a critical part of reconciliation.
Early learning and child care programs designed by and with indigenous families and communities give indigenous children the best start in life. That is why this generational investment includes $2.5 billion over five years toward an early learning and child care system that meets the needs of indigenous families.
By 2025-26, new investments in child care will reach a minimum of $8.3 billion per year ongoing, including indigenous early learning and child care.
Our vision is to bring fees down to $10 per day on average by 2025-26 everywhere in Canada outside of Quebec. This would start with a 50% reduction in average fees for preschool care by 2022. Simply put, this investment will drive jobs and growth. It is a smart economic policy and it is the right policy for Canadians at this juncture.
However, it is not the only way that we are supporting women through budget 2021.
Budget 2021 also lays out an expansive jobs and growth plan that is very much a feminist plan. It seeks to build a recovery that gives all women in Canada the ability to fully participate in our economy.
For example, Canadian women entrepreneurs still face unique and systemic barriers to starting and growing a business. In light of this pandemic, that has become even more challenging.
To address these challenges, budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $146.9 million to strengthen the women entrepreneurship strategy, which will help provide greater access to financing, and support mentorship and training activities. Ensuring women have opportunities to work and grow in their businesses is absolutely crucial, but, of course, protecting the health and safety of women is also a priority.
Our government is also moving forward on developing a national action plan to end gender-based violence through new proposed investments of over $600 million, which will provide support for action against gender-based violence, for indigenous women and for 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations, for the design and delivery of interventions that promote healthy relations and prevent violence and for increased access to information and support. This is in addition to reallocating $250 million in existing funding to support housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence.
We are accelerating work on a national action plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ calls for justice and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. To support this work, budget 2021 proposes to invest an additional $2.2 billion over five years, and $160.9 million ongoing, to help build a safer, stronger and more inclusive society.
Finally, budget 2021 proposes to invest $236.2 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $33.5 million per year ongoing to expand work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors. This investment will reinforce the systemic efforts to change the culture and working conditions in the Canadian Armed Forces. Ultimately, these measures support the objective of increasing representation of women in the Canadian Armed Forces from 15% to 25% by 2026, which, if achieved, will further positively reinforce culture change.
It is absolutely absurd to think that, in 2021, we are talking about the need for some of these measures instead of simply living in a society where women and men are on equal footing, with the same opportunities to succeed in a truly inclusive society.
Our government will continue to build a feminist intersectional action plan for women in the economy that will work to push past systemic barriers and inequalities for good. The—