3.21.2006

common sense

I thought this was very interesting. According to an in-depth panel study, Canadians prefer a national child-care program to cash payments directly to parents.
Canadians favour a national child-care system over direct cash payments to parents, a new study sponsored by the YWCA Canada suggested Monday.

The report's findings were drawn from the work of four panels from representative communities of Halifax, Vancouver, Cambridge, Ont., and Martensville, Sask.

The panels met over the course of a year with business and labour, aboriginal, ethnic, community, women's and parent groups, profit and non-profit service providers and municipal and provincial officials.

"The findings dispense with many assumptions that Canada is too vast and diverse to make a national child-care program viable," YWCA chief executive officer Paulette Senior said.

"We found that both mothers at home and those in the labour force want early-learning programs for their children."

. . . .

According to Monday's report, all four panels involved in the YWCA study returned with so-called hub models that would offer uniform accessible public child care and related programs. The proposals also recommended using the existing "patchwork" of child-care across the country as a starting point.

None of the panels favoured giving money directly to parents, noting that that kind of funding will not address the absence of available services.

The report also recommended that governments take primary responsibility to support early childhood learning and care services and that legislation be introduced to guarantee all children "high quality, developmentally appropriate, affordable and inclusive" care regardless of their socio-economic status, location, language or culture.

The study also suggested that formal steps be taken by the federal government to ensure its accountability for the system. It also argued that funding to those providing service be conditional on their meeting service and quality standards.
Let's hope this carries some weight, and opposition in Parliament remains united. $1200 - before taxes! - won't pay for a year of babysitting, never mind beer and popcorn.

Globe And Mail story here, YWCA study results here.

25 comments:

Alex said...

I'm not sure about national child-care system - I still think that the private sector can provide enough spaces. Child care is expensive, but having children is expensive - it's something you need to plan for. I don't have children yet - but when I do, I know to take into account all the expenses that i'm going to have.

L-girl said...

Child care is expensive, but having children is expensive - it's something you need to plan for. I don't have children yet - but when I do, I know to take into account all the expenses that i'm going to have.

Ha! Good luck to you. Perhaps you are very wealthy. Or perhaps you think only wealthy people should have kids.

And it's not only money - it's good places to care for your kids. They don't materialize out of thin air.

Amateur said...

I could maybe see some logic in the conservative plan -- the "market solution" approach -- if they were going to give the money to parents who needed it. But they promised to give it to everybody! This is where the "private sector can provide" argument really breaks down.

Take me as an example. I have two children. I work for a living but I am in a high-income tax bracket, and Mrs. Amateur is not working so she can stay home with the kids. My four-year-old son is in daycare two days a week because it keeps my loving spouse from going insane. My one-year-old daughter is not in daycare because she is fiercely independent and insists on taking care of herself.

Under the conservative plan I would be getting $200 a month from the federal government. I currently spend $260 a month on two-days-a-week daycare for one child. Awesome! I'm almost covered! (Except for those darned income taxes.)

Of course, family B that relies on two incomes is currently paying about $1250 a month for their two children to be in the same daycare five days a week.

Meanwhile, since the defeat of the Liberal government, the daycare centre has announced that they are going to raise fees by $5 a day to cover the loss of the Federal funding, and provide the child care providers with a living wage. Family B's $1250 monthly bill just went up to $1450, nicely matching the conservatives' contribution.

And if you don't really need that daycare -- like me -- you pull your kids out! So I'll take my $200 each month, give half of it back to the government in income tax, and spend the other half on groceries. How great is that? For me, I mean -- it doesn't contribute anything to the child care "solution."

At the very least, the opposition must insist that the funding should be needs-based, and that it should only go to families who are actually paying a childcare provider.

latour said...

Well, I'm not a father, so I haven't been looking very hard for spaces, but from what I've heard and read, the main problem is that there's not enough spaces and long lines. I don't see how Harper's $1200 a month will help create any more spaces, especially if you live in Ontario where if you are poor, the provincial government basically takes your cheques away.

Harper is just using scare tactics, saying that a national child care plan means no choice (which is basically a straw man, saying that those who favour national child care want to make an assembly line), yet what choice do you have when there are no spaces available?

I also think Harper is a bit sexist, he's trying to stop women from getting careers, by making sure mothers are stuck at home because they can't get a child care spot (of course the fathers can stay at home, but a lot of professions, specifically high paying ones like engineering, are still dominated by men). I'm sure he's sexist, I've read quotes of him saying that pay equity is "a waste of money." He's just one of those people that wants to go back to "the good old days" of sexism and homophobia.

Alex said...

Ha! Good luck to you. Perhaps you are very wealthy. Or perhaps you think only wealthy people should have kids.

I'm not wealthy - my constant partying (which I blame on the fun loving lifestyle of Canadians) has taken care of my disposable income. But I digress....I'm not saying it's going to be easy. Hell, i'm deluding myself by even thinking it - I have no idea how i'm going to pay for all those expenses - but it's something i'll have to figure out. I'd rather figure it out for myself than have the government do it for me - that's all i'm saying. Streets, parks, police, fire, healthcare - those are good, public enterpises that the government should manage - but I just like to keep as much privatized as possible.

Adam Smith rules!

L-girl said...

I'd rather figure it out for myself than have the government do it for me

Spoken as only someone who hasn't grappled with finding affordable child care could say. People in the US like to say this about health care, too. Until they don't have it.

but I just like to keep as much privatized as possible.

So them that's got can have, them that ain't got, too bad for them. Who told them to have kids anyway.

L-girl said...

Harper is just using scare tactics, saying that a national child care plan means no choice (which is basically a straw man, saying that those who favour national child care want to make an assembly line),

Yup, the standard straw man Conservatives always use. Xref US and health care.

I also think Harper is a bit sexist

I totally agree.

I also agree with Amateur that certain needs-testing makes sense here.

L-girl said...

Hey Alex, I didn't mean to sound snotty there. (Just read over that comment and realized it came out snippy.)

I just don't think it's realistic to say "When I have kids, I'll make sure I plan for every expense." Not everyone has that luxury.

Plus, things change. What if you lost your job? What if you couldn't find good child care, but neither partner could stay home?

For working parents, child care is an ongoing problem, and saying they should have thought of it before they had kids is not a solution.

Alex said...

Now you write back and say you sounded snippy - now I send snippy. :)

L-girl said...

Ha ha, not to worry, all is well. :)

Andrea said...

This is a problem that puts fear in my heart. I am not in Canada yet, but soon and already I am terrified of this.
I have one blogging friend now that is being forced to make some major career changes with her life due to the happy coming of a second child and the disaster of child care destroying her happy career. She loves her job but cant do it.
That is not fair on anyone in the family!
Fear fear fear. This is all that I feel right now and every time I read about this.

L-girl said...

Andrea, I knew it was a concern of yours, but I didn't know it was that scary. How terrible!

Perhaps it will work out more easily than you think, like many of my concerns did after moving here. After all, many Canadian families have child care and both parents are able to work. It might not be as desperate as you fear.

Andrea said...

I really hope that you are right L. Being here I am not totally sure about my area and I know I will have grandparents that can help out, which is a major stress relief.
I just see so much draining away and it saddens me.

L-girl said...

I understand. But it's not gone yet.

I didn't want to give you a platitude - "Don't worry, everything will work out for the best" - because I hate when people do that to me. You're making a huge move, there's a lot on your mind, and this is a major concern. So of course you're anxious about it.

But it's also good to be hopeful, not to worry too much in advance and expect the worst.

I'm glad you'll have support from grandparents, that's so important!

Dennis said...

Its all well and good that many people feel comfortable allowing a government agency to look after their children and want to have the government support that for thier own set of circumstances. But you know something? Not everyone wants their children in that kind of setting.

I'd wager that there are more people that want to raise their children at home because they know that mom or dad or family members is better for them than any government daycare. They have done this and continue to do this despite NEVER having had support from the Liberals for their choice.

You know, my wife and I waited and waited, and WAITED for the Liberals to respect, encourage, and support OUR choice since 1993 until 2004; 11 YEARS! We finally gave up and voted for someone else.

We sacrificed one money earner in our family for a long time so we could do what we knew was best for our children - caring for them at home. Our family has done without a lot of luxuries that people take for granted today to do what we know was best for our children - being taken care of at home by one of us.

And we would do it again in a heartbeat, even if it meant having the Liberals do NOTHING for our choice as they did for the last 11 years; as they would have continued to do.

L-girl said...

Not everyone wants their children in that kind of setting.

That's fine. No one's forcing them to put their kids in day care. For some families, though, it's an important option.

I'd wager that there are more people that want to raise their children at home because they know that mom or dad or family members is better for them than any government daycare.

You mean "they believe", not "they know". And they're free to believe that, and follow through. And I'm sure in some cases it's true.

I happen to believe kids benefit greatly from a social setting. Just because someone's a family member doesn't make them a good caregiver. Mom, dad or a grandparent can be a terrible caregiver, can be negligent or abusive or just plain stupid. Being around other kids in a supportive, learning environment might be way better than staying home.

But regardless of that, many families don't have the luxury of having a family member staying at home for child care. So a government-run program can make a lot of people's lives much easier.

But no one's forcing you to put your child there. Relax.

Lone Primate said...

I don't have any problem with folks who want to take divergent paths. But taking their money out of the system? No way. That's the slippery slope. I don't have kids, but you won't hear me complaining about how so much of my tax money goes to pay for other people's kids' education. That's the future of my country. That's a debt I owe the people who came before me and gave me the opportunity I have. I have to pay that forward. So does everyone else who lives here, whether they opt to avail themselves of that system or not. You're free to make use or not to make use of the system as you see fit... but you are not free to withdraw your support from it and hobble the future. Citizenship, even residency, has obligations. To the past, to the present, to the future. Mr. Harper's policy falls short of recognizing that. The Opposition will be correct to defeat any budget that fails to fall into accord with that.

L-girl said...

I don't have any problem with folks who want to take divergent paths. But taking their money out of the system? No way.

Yes, that's my point, too. Don't want to put your kids in day care? Fine. No problem - as long as you contribute to the system so everyone has the option.

Wrye said...

"Don't worry, everything will work out for the best"

The immediate counterargument to this is always:

"The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

Which is to say: if it takes 50 years for a national trend to reverse and things to improve, it doesn't really do you personally a lot of good. Something to bear in mind, say, if someone's thinking of moving to Canada.

Andrea said...

Wrye - lets just say I am trying to save every single penny I can and am already tossing my resume into the ring at every half-ass decent part time job I can find. Grandparents can help out part time for now until other arrangements, what ever that ends up being, can be found.
One of us finding an amazing job, hahaha, is high on the list of desires.
It isnt much better in Japan.

Amateur said...

Dennis: From my previous comment you will see that my wife and I are making the same choice.

I can also agree with your point that the federal government does not do enough to support families with children, period.

I just don't like the dishonesty of this "soluiton." If the feds want to give me a $2400 tax refund because I have two kids, fine. But don't call it a national child care program, or any kind of substitute for a national child care program.

If Harper doesn't think that there should be federal support for child care, then he should just say so. That's a valid political stance. But he can't say that, because then he wouldn't get elected.

Lone Primate said...

I don't get why this is so hard for certain parties to grasp. You want people to get out and be productive in the ecomony, make it feasible for them to have their kids looked after. It's such a no-brainer. What does it say about Stephen Harper that he can't grasp that? It might have befuddled Dief, but he was PM 50 years ago.

L-girl said...

You want people to get out and be productive in the ecomony, make it feasible for them to have their kids looked after. It's such a no-brainer. What does it say about Stephen Harper that he can't grasp that?

I think it says he and his ilk would rather certain parties not get out into the economy, but stay at home doing homemakery things where they belong.

Since in our society those people are still overwhelmingly female, I call his tax refund disguised as a child-care program what it is: sexist.

Sara said...

the stufy is a joke, only done by diased funding. You ask any parent if they would like money to pay for childcare or the state to do it themselves,,, now when I say childcare I mean ALL childcare... stay at home, daycare and everything in between. This is not a black and white issue nothing is as what it seems... don't assume, research what you are seeing and you will see what the rest of us do.

L-girl said...

Sara, you are commenting on an old thread, that no one will see but me. Nevertheless, I don't understand what your comment means at all. Please do explain further if you want.

By the way, I do speak to many parents, all the time. Most people I know support tax-supported child care. They are working people who would like that option. It's not a scientific survey, but it is what I see around me.