OTTAWA -- The head of the Bank of Canada is pointing to Quebec's subsidized child-care program as a possible tool to boost the economy because it could significantly increase female workforce participation across the country.

In a speech today at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz used Quebec's child-care model as one way to show how Canada could unlock some of the considerable untapped potential in its labour force.

Poloz says helping more women, young people, Indigenous peoples, recent immigrants and Canadians living with disabilities enter the job market could help the labour force expand by half a million people.

In prepared remarks of his speech, he says finding ways to encourage more people into the workforce would also enable Canada to permanently raise its growth capacity without generating higher inflation.

Poloz says women represent the largest source of economic potential and he credits Quebec's child-care program for raising prime-age female workforce participation from 74 per cent 20 years ago to about 87 per cent today.

In comparison, he says about 83 per cent of prime-age women participate in the national workforce and lifting it to Quebec's level would add almost 300,000 people to the country's labour force and expand economic growth.

Poloz noted that the federal government's budget last month made commitments aimed at increasing the labour-force participation of women.

However, economists and some critics have said the budget's failure to announce steps towards national affordable child care likely means a significant number of women will remain out of the workforce.