Tardy Child Care Funding ….a pittance

j0406837.jpgNow that the Cons have wasted 13 months without creating a single child care space in Canada, I see they have come up with a new lame-o plan just in time for budget day. The Canadian Child Care Community is furious because they told the Cons a year ago the “tax cuts to create child care” idea was not going to work. A great deal of time has been lost while the Cons flapped around pretending like they had a clue.

The Cons say they will provide 250 million in child care funding for all of Canada. No matter the breakdown, there can be no mistake, it’s a far cry from the 1.2 billion promised under the old Liberal child care plan. BC’s share would have been 455 million over the next 3 years. I still have not found a province by province break down for the 250 million.

I guess I should be happy the Cons don’t have a majority because even with all three of the opposition parties demanding child care funding; this pathetic amount is the best the Cons can come up with. I can only imagine the funding that would have been offered for child care in the budget this year if the opposition had not constantly hammered at the Cons to reinstate it.

In addition, the new Con plan has no requirement that this money be spent on child care. It can be spent on anything, it is up to the provinces to decide. If we continue to be governed by the Cons I wouldn’t look for this to change in the near future because it appears the plan is to cut taxes so much the surplus will be eliminated so there will be little future funding for child care. How convenient for the Cons to make they make these important decisions for us by ensuring there is no money to help Canadian families manage the increasing cost of child care in the future.

CanWest recently reported on the severe labour shortages that are affecting the West Coast. Dr. Paul Kershaw (UBC) just completed a study for the Institute for Research on Public Policy that proposes substantial new public investments in child care services. After Quebec introduced its universal child care plan, maternal labour force participation increased 21%. Given the tight labour markets in the West increasing child care spaces and lowering costs for parents could really help BC and Alberta right now.

Kershaw’s analysis demonstrates that most of the inequity in family benefits is due to the fact that child care expenses are only subsidized for families with very low incomes, leaving middle-income families with less disposable income than couples without children. High-quality child care also accomplishes important human capital objectives and improves generational equity. Despite proven positive effect of high-quality child care on human capital development over the life cycle, government expenditures remain disproportionately aimed at senior citizens. Per capita spending on cash benefits and services (excluding health care) for families with children is less than one tenth of spending directed at senior citizens.

This social objective relates to a post I wrote earlier this month on the importance of prevention to our society. We know that prevention is key to social, economic and environmental prosperity, but governments refuse to adequately fund it and continue to focus our resources and attention on managing crisis.

Kershaw suggests that the flat-fee payment structure used in the Quebec system could be improved upon by using a sliding-scale approach, by which lower-income families would pay virtually nothing (as is currently the case in both Alberta and British Columbia), and out-of-pocket costs would increase with family income up to a ceiling. He estimates that the costs of a universal child care system would amount to $1.2 billion annually in British Columbia, and slightly less in Alberta. These figures are well below projected provincial surpluses, illustrating that the policy challenge is one of political will rather than dollars and cents.


23 thoughts on “Tardy Child Care Funding ….a pittance

  1. Lorraine says:

    The Liberal Child Care plan which included the agreements signed with the provinces and I think $1 billion has been in place every since the Conservatives got elected. They said they would honour the one year agreements which will all expire on April 1, 2007.

    So if there were NO new spaces created in the past year then it is the Liberal program that failed. And YOU want more of that?

    The provinces apparently have now told the feds to butt out of the child care business, it is provincial jurisdiction (as Quebec has always said) and instead they want a per capita cut of $250 million per year to use as they wish for child care – be that toppig off wages, creating new post secondary training for workers, subsidizing more parents and maybe even creating new spaces.

    I also heard that the $10,000 tax credit per new space created will also be in place after April 1, 2007 but they don’t expect a big uptake since institutionalized day cares are not required in many parts of the country. Quebec has about 46% of day care spaces because it is only $7 per day – and at that only 20% of kids in care are in iQuebec institutionalized day cares.

    Some parents want some of the money to go to mother’s day out programs for parents and kids which helps parents who are raising their own children.

    So, the more you complain about NO NEW DAY CARE spaces created last year the more you prove the Dryden/Liberal/Ndp bplan did not work as promised.

  2. Woman At Mille 0 says:

    After the Cons said they would cut the funds for child care, the province of BC stopped awarding funding to create new child care spaces. The Cons came into power after the province was already actively engaged in an expansion of their child care program and services based on promised ongoing funds from the Liberal child care plan. The announced Conservative cuts, combined with no firm plan for the 250 million they were going to offer, threw everything into uncertainty and the expansion was frozen. I think that an upcoming loss of 455 million dollars does require a province to stop and reassess its options based on its fiscal situation. The Cons never bothered to come up with any sort of structure to a new plan until just this week.

    I do not think its fair to blame the provinces for Harper’s backpeddling on the federal government’s promise to provide funding to the provinces for child care. I do agree that stay at home parents should be provided with funding or free access to Mom and Tot early learning programs, funding for preschool,etc. But working parents still require child care and they are hurting badly. I find your term institutionalized daycare confusing, are you referring to group child care?…family child care?.. because in BC all of these are licensed and regulated care. Many family child care programs offer care on par with the quality of group child care programs and often these providers will also be early childhood educators.

    As for the feds keeping their nose out of the provinces child care and early learning programs I agree with this notion. The provinces have the know how to deliver the programs that work best for their regions. Leave it to the ignorant Conservatives to administer our child care dollars through a federal Universal Child Care Benefit… talk about an unwelcome intrusion into provincial jurisdiction.

  3. blazingcatfur says:

    It is not the responsibilty of society to fund your childcare expenses. If you cannot afford the expense then refrain from having children. It really is that simple.

  4. Woman At Mille 0 says:

    Blazingcatfur…..That makes about as much sense as saying that everyone should have to pay the full cost of their child’s education K-12 or their own families health care costs. I don’t see Canadians saying that everyone should pay for their own child’s education or their own health care.

    Research shows that early childhood development programs and services such as quality early learning and child care plays an important role in promoting the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of young children. The first 6 years are the most critical period of development in a child life. Children need quality care and the fact is the cost of quality care is increasing outstripping many parents ability to pay for it. These are not poor parents either. With care running up to 900-1000 dollar a month for each child in some cities, I have talked to parents who are now spacing out the birth of their children (5 years) so that only one child is in full time daycare at any one time because of the cost. That parents are reduced to planning their families so that they can still afford daycare is very sad.

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