Reimagining Care/Work Policies

About Us

RC/W is a seven-year research program committed to expanding possibilities for policies, practices, and meanings of care/work for diverse families in Canada. We are funded mainly by a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Childcare, parental leave, and employment are often conceived as three separate policy realms. We approach these as interconnected, both in policy development and in people’s everyday lives. Together our team of researchers and multi-sectoral partners are working towards equitable and transformative family futures.

Our research is guided by four questions.

  • How are Canadian care/work policies structured, financed, and delivered – and how can they be reimagined and restructured in ways that enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion?
  • How do diverse families live, work, and care under current Canadian policy regimes? What can be learned from their stories about the lived experiences and impacts of family policies on families’ everyday lives?  
  • What is the optimal mix of integrated care/work policies—childcare, parental leave, and employment policies—for diverse families with young children– and what can be gleaned and adapted from intra-national and international research? 
  • What data and innovative approaches (methodological, conceptual, and onto-epistemological) are needed to understand care/work practices – and how do we measure the effectiveness and inclusiveness of care/work policies?

The roots of RC/W

For decades, feminist advocates and researchers, including members of the RC/W, have been working to advance equitable and inclusive care/work policies in Canada.

RC/W Co-founders Andrea Doucet, Martha Friendly, Donna Lero, and Susan Prentice—initiated this partnership research program to contribute to research, policy development, and social change related to early learning and child care, parental leaves, and employment policies.

Our research program builds on past initiatives. Thirty years ago,  Status of Women Canada called for “Federal, provincial and territorial governments [to] jointly develop complementary systems of child care and parental leave that are as comprehensive, accessible and competent as our systems of health care and education.”

Over twenty years ago, the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) argued that, “the time has come for a sustained societal investment in children and their families” (Stroick & Jenson 1999).

More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how intertwined our caring and working lives are. Across the globe, workplace changes have had major impacts on how people, especially women, care and provide for their families. The pandemic has also renewed efforts to re-envision conceptual and policy approaches to care and work.

Together we are asking: How can we reimagine care/work policies and practices in Canada? And how can we do this in ways that attend to diversity, equity, and inclusion in how people care, work, and live?