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Reason of the day to not vote Conservative: Cancelling child care program

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Being childfree, this isn’t a big issue for me personally, but from living in the world, I know it’s a big issue.

Back in 2006, the Martin Liberals brought in a national child care program.

Upon taking office, the Harper Conservatives promptly cancelled it, amidst protests of the provinces, and individual citizens, who argued that $100 per child tax credit being offered instead wasn’t enough to help, and that the corporate tax credits weren’t enough to generate the predicted 125,000 new daycare spaces.

This proved prophetic, as the program has yet to create a single new daycare space, and the OECD now ranks Canada last amongst industrialized nations in spending on early learning and child care programs.

The reasons the Conservatives gave for giving a tax credit instead of honouring the child care deal was “choice” and “fairness”. Creating daycare spaces helps only those who want their preschool children to have quality daycare; it doesn’t help those who make other choices: staying at home, or using a babysitter or nanny.

Isn’t that rather like saying that governments funding new programs in colleges and universities is unfair, because it doesn’t help young people who make other choices, such as getting a job right out high school, or backpacking through Europe, or just sponging off of Mom and Dad?

In fact, isn’t it exactly like that? Universities and colleges provide post-secondary education. Not everyone attends a post-secondary institution. Still, those are largely tax payer funded. Canadians know that having a well-educated population is beneficial to the country in the long run, and therefore worth funding.

Colleges and universities are optional young adult education opportunities; quality daycare provides optional early childhood educational opportunities. The idea of replacing college/university funding with giving all 18-year-olds $100 a month for their “choice” of education options is clearly absurd.

But that’s exactly the policy the PC’s are running on, except for preschool children rather than young adults.

There just aren’t enough daycare spaces in Canada to meet the demand. That is the problem government needs to address. Parents are not, currently, “free to choose” quality child care, because too many of them can’t find it at all, or they can’t afford it when they do (yes, it’s typically quite a bit more than $100 a month). The $1200 credit does you no good whatsoever if all available daycare spaces are gone.

The PC’s have been this week try to “scare” Canadians into thinking the Liberals will cancel the child tax credit; the Liberals have been busy denying it. And adding, in small print that I think should be large headlines, “Liberals do intend to replace the Conservative plan to create child care spaces, because their plan didn’t work.”

So I leave this with a few fast facts on child care in Canada. It’s from 2004, but unfortunately, I don’t think too much has changed.

  • Estimated amount that work-life conflicts cost Canadian organizations each year in time lost due to work absences: $2.7 Billion
  • Percentage of children aged 3 to 5 whose mothers work in the paid labour force: more than 70%
  • Compared to 12-year-old peers in New Zealand who received top-quality early childhood education, difference in Canadian scores on literacy and numeracy tests: 12 percentage points lower
  • In a 2003 poll, percentage of Canadians who:
  • agreed that Canada should have a nationally co-ordinated child care plan: 90%
  • agreed that there can be a publicly funded child care system that makes quality child care available to all Canadian children: 86%

3 thoughts on “Reason of the day to not vote Conservative: Cancelling child care program

  1. I’ve been enjoying your reasons to not vote Conservative a great deal, but one little bone to pick: please don’t refer to them as the PCs! This is not the Progressive Conservative party of yore and it’s an insult to the PCs (a party i’d have few qualms voting for if they were still around). Call them the Conservatives, or the Cons, or (my favourite) the Reformatories, but please, this lot are not the PCs.

  2. That is a very good point! I must watch out for that. (Perhaps I’ll even go back and edit later.) Clearly, the Conservative Party of Canada are not the Progressive Conservatives, and the dropping of that word is very telling…

  3. Great article and great site. I know Im not a perfect parent so Im always looking for great ideas and tips on how to improve.

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