Thursday, April 13, 2006

Albertans oppose Tory Child Care plans

By a big margin across the geographic, economic and political spectrum.

The stereotype of Albertans as a monolithic bloc of economic and social conservatives keeps bumping up against the facts.

Meanwhile the next person who calls the Harper bribe check a 'childcare plan' has to find me a daycare spot charging $25 a week. The Harper 'pay $100 per month payments to parents of school age children' plan is an insult to the majority of Canadian families that can't afford to be single income households. It's policy based solely on an ideological distaste for the public sector and mothers in the work force.

The Liberals don't get a pass here either, they had years and years of unstoppable majority rule combined with bursting coffers. They finally brought a real healthcare plan forward twelve years after first promising it in a minority parliament as part of a desperate bid to retain power. Never trust a Liberal promising social spending unless he's got a legislative gun pointed at his head.

Well it wouldn't be a real Alberta blog without some Liberal bashing would it?


Prairie Kid said...

The childcare plan offered by both the NDP and the Liberals was nothing than a transfer of money from the federal government to the provinces. It didn't guarantee a single space. Matter of fact, the first word out of Gary Doer's mouth was "now we will be able to increase the wages for the childcare workers". Is that going to create new spaces? Also, all the childcare advocates keep throwing numbers out like there are so many parents waiting in line. I think you should be aware of this. When you apply to put your child in daycare, they encourage you to apply to every daycare in the city. Now your name is on the list several times. Then when you find a spot for your child, they don't take your name off the list except at the daycare you take your child to. Now your name stays on the list. And that's the list they quote. To sum up . . . the so-called thousands of parents waiting for childcare spaces is purely fictional. These are made-up numbers. Numbers used by the childcare advocates to get the funding they need so the unions can get a bigger membership. These are the facts. Check them out yourself.

Cliff said...

Welcome back prairie kid.

For a conservative you sure don't trust provincial governments with the funds to provide their own services.

Here's 700 childcare spaces in ONE CITY that will be lost beacause of Harper's cancelling of the program:

Do you have that $25 a week childcare spot for me Prairie Kid? Do you have them for 700 children in Ottawa?

Prairie Kid said...

Coming from Manitoba, I have every right not to trust our government. After all, they told me 6 years ago that they could fix healthcare within 6 months and with only spending $15,000. Now, look at the very bottom of the piece you directed me to. The advocates have everything to lose by not having money tossed at them. Obviously you didn't read my post carefully because you would see how these numbers are fudged by special interest groups. Please direct me to any government article or document that states that the money transferred to a province has to be used to create childcare spaces. There is none. In other words, childcare is exactly like healthcare. It's just a transfer of money to be used how the province deems necessary.

Prairie Kid said...

I must add one more point. Even though we may disagree on many levels, at least we are having a dialogue. You state your case and I state mine. There are other bloggers, for example, that make outrageous claims and when you confront them with facts they put their head in the sand and hide. Hello . . . futon revelutionary.

Cliff said...

Well thanks prairie kid - I started this blog to debate the issues not flame people who respond to it.

Your critique of my post seems to be entirely based on the writings fo columnist Tom Brodbek - his latest column zeroes in on the same spaces number in Winnipeg you focussed on in your response.

However Stats Canada has done extensive surveys on the subject and finds that 54% of Canadians have used some form of daycare - up 25% since 1994.

The need for more healthcare spaces is an undeniable fact. So the question is, will the Tory plan create new ones?

The Head of the Canadian Federation of Independant Business -someone you'd expect to be a natural Tory ally - doesn't believe that the Tory tax incentive plan will create any new child care spaces.

Indeed it's been a failure at creating new spaces everywhere it's been tried.

Comparing private and public childcare also inevitably becomes a quality issue. Again the evidence is clear about the superiority of public care and the dangers of private child care.

Childcare Privatization has been an abject failure in Australia, so we do have examples to compare:

Finally here's a legal opinion showing private childcare leaves Canadians open to potential NAFTA challenges for control over our children's care.

wilson61 said...

"However Stats Canada has done extensive surveys on the subject and finds that 54% of Canadians have used some form of daycare - up 25% since 1994."

Yes, and that means 46% are stay at home parents. The survey also showed that the 54% was divided into thirds, one third used institutional care... That represents only 16.4% of children today. The remaining 83.6% of children would not benefit from the Lib nor NDP proposals.

The 25% increase was very misleading, that increase was in those ALREADY using daycare, the overall increase was 12% more children in childcare.
If you look deeper, the increase from the 2000/01 survey was 0.4%
Yes, a whopping 0.4% increase of children requiring childcare since 2001. Hardly the catastrophy it is portrayed as, by the intentional misrepresentation of the numbers by the media & special interest groups.

Prairie Kid said...

I agree with you on the need for childcare spaces. Because there is no regulatory body, I question some of the numbers thrown out there. There are a couple of reasons why I like the Conservative daycare plan. I'm not saying it's the be all and end all but here are 2 reasons why I like it.

1. Unfortunately, the Liberal daycare plan only affected about 13% of all children in Canada. The Conservative plan gives some money to every child under 6.

2. This is what a lot of people either miss or don't talk about. The Conservative plan will help create 125,000 spaces within the corporate world. This should affect many parents who work in the corporate world because they could see their children at coffee break or at lunch.

As I said, this plan is not the be all and end all but I think with the choices the political parties have put out there, I prefer the Conservative approach best. And as I mentioned in my first post, I don't trust many provincial governments like Manitoba's. When I hear comments like Gary Doer's, I immediately find myself asking where is this money really going? If you recieved an injection of cash from the federal government and it went into general revenue and a massive flood came along, where do you think the money would go?

Cliff said...

Which of course ignores how many of those 46% would use daycare if they could afford it or find the open spaces.

It ignores the children receiving sub-standard care in expensive private facilities. It ignores how many more parents use daycare in Quebec where they have greater access to it.

The spaces are needed - just talking to parents will make that abundantly clear. The Tory plan won't create them.

And what's the obsession with buzz words like 'institutionalized care'? One Tory minister even described public healthcare as a 'Soviet idea' who's using rhetoris and 'intentional misrepresentation' again? How come you never hear people complaining about our 'institutionalized, soviet style' public school system that acts as a defacto state child care program?

Cliff said...

"1. Unfortunately, the Liberal daycare plan only affected about 13% of all children in Canada. The Conservative plan gives some money to every child under 6.

2. This is what a lot of people either miss or don't talk about. The Conservative plan will help create 125,000 spaces within the corporate world. This should affect many parents who work in the corporate world because they could see their children at coffee break or at lunch."

As to point 1, it gives their parents $25 dollars a week. I repeat, find me a child care space todayfor $25 a week - and not even $25 a week as it's a taxable benefit under the Tory plan and will be whittled away to a fraction of that.

As to point 2, No, it won't. Using tax incentives to create child care spaces has failed miserably everywhere it's been tried. For that matter the Tories haven't even rolled out their plan to create more spaces, merely made vague promises to do so within a year.

Prairie Kid said...

1. The money is taxed to the lowest income earner. And, many many families won't even pay taxes on the money. Having said that, I did say it was not the be all and end all. But it's a start. It would be financially impossible to fund 100% of daycare in Canada. So lets be fair. Are we going to spend billions of dollars only a few children? What about the children that don't need daycare?

2. I don't mean to start an argument but could you tell me where this has been tried and why it failed?

3. The Liberal childcare plan was only talk too. Money was transferred to some provinces. Have we seen any childcare space announcements from any provincial government yet? The Conservatives have only been in power a few months. You need to give them time to institue policies.

Cliff said...

Here's the Tory minister reponsible admiting that the Tax credits scheme hasn't worked before:

The minister responsible for one of the government's centrepiece proposals acknowledges that tax credits to business have failed to create many child-care spaces in the past.

The tax credit scheme failed to create new spaces in Ontario under Harris and will fail agin federally.

And as to your 'What about the children that don't need daycare?' question - well, what about those who do? Should they suffer because there are parents that can afford to be single income households?

The Tories are taking away a program that would have created spaces -provincial governments that didn't use the funds to do so would have paid for it at the ballot box- and by their own admission are not offering anything in it's place that would create the needed spaces.

The spaces are needed. The higher quality standards of public care are needed. The majority of Canadians, even here in Harper's backyard of Alberta prefer the Liberal childcare plan to the Tory non-plan.

Remember how Harper was supposed to bring more democracy and more responsiveness to the wishes of Canadians when he became leader? It seems like a long time ago.

Prairie Kid said...

I accept what the minister said. However, I think her further comments are a sign that she is flexible. On this point, we can agree to disagree. However, I cannot accept your point about the few versus the many. Governments are faced with many challenges not the least childcare. But to unleash a program that would cost billions of dollars for only a minority of children is not a road I think they should go down. That’s like spending billions on a rebate program for people who like green, believe in reincarnation and are born between April 14 and 25. Chances are there are not that many.

Cliff said...

Except it's not the minority, it's the majority. The majority of Canadians with children have used daycare - a number that is growing. Add in those who would use it if they could find a space or afford it and those who need or would use daycare if they could becomes a very comfortable majority. Almost 70% in Quebec where it is affordable and available use it.

You're the one advocating punishing the majority at the behest of a small minority of Canadians who oppose a federal daycare program.

Prairie Kid said...

I'm sorry Cliff but I have to completely disagree with your numbers. According to Statistics Canada ,in 2001 25% of all children were in some sort of daycare.

Are you telling me that in the last 4 years daycare has more than doubled? If that's the case, have the daycare spaces doubled? No they haven't. If they had we would have heard about it. So there are a lot of families who do not use daycare. Now, lets add in the rural children who would not even have access to daycare even if the government opened a million new spaces, and you are dealing with a minority of children. These are not my numbers or pie-in-the-sky numbers. These numbers come from Statistics Canada. Now, granted, because of the subsidised daycare in Quebec, their numbers are somewhat higher. But imagine the cost if we spread this out across Canada? It would be a financial drain that government simply couldn't sustain. That's why I'm sticking to my 13% number.

Cliff said...

To clarify in 2001, 53 per cent of Canadian kids received some care from someone other than their parents. That's up from 42 per cent in just seven years.

Only 25% used a formal daycare program - I submit this is due to lack of access and inability to pay the cost NOT choice.

More than 70 per cent of mothers of young children are in the paid workforce not all of them can count on their mother-in-law.

Prairie Kid said...

OK Cliff. As in most intelligent arguments, the gap is narrowing. I think we both have our strong points. I will not completely disagree with you and I hope you feel the same way. After all, isn't this what our men and women in the military fought for? So that we could have differences of opinion?

wilson61 said...

"Which of course ignores how many of those 46% would use daycare if they could afford it or find the open spaces.

Where do these numbers come from?

A reporter from Winnipeg (Tom B) exposed the misrepresentation of caycare 'needs' numbers.

Parents put their names on the lists of ALL the daycares, trying to get on one. Their name is only removed from the list where they get a space. So the numbers are exaggerated past the point of having a drop of reality.

Prairie Kid, if you look at the StatsCan reports again, there is a 0.4% increase in the number of kids in daycare since 2001. If the need was increasing at a great clip, so would the increase in people using non-institutional care.
People are having fewer kids, the need is going to go down. Quebec was trying to encourage bigger families by providing cheap daycare....Quebec is going broke largely because of it.

Cliff said...

From the Stats Canada report:

For single working parent families, daycare was the most common option.

The report also said there was a decline in child care outside the home by a non-relative, even though, once again, that option was the most sought-after choice for families.

The decrease was offset by an increase in the use of care by relatives and a rise in the use of day-care centres.

Because there aren't enough seats for those who want them - I hope you aren't arguing there aren't long waiting lists in every province for childcare spaces - does not mean a lack of need for such spaces, exactly the opposite in fact.

prairie kid brought up the same Brodbek column. Unfortunately Mr Brodbek's column has some issues with the truth as convicingly demonstrated here:

From section 15:

27 of Winnipeg’s 321 facilities (8.4 percent of the total) refused to answer questions about their wait lists
The survey acknowledged that it was not able to identify if any names were on more than one waiting list (you wouldn't know that reading Brodbeck's column)

Many centres have full waiting lists and are not accepting new names.

The first item tells us that the waiting list total is probably larger than reported. The second point raises one of Brodbeck's issues, and is probably the most glaring issue regarding accuracy, and it is admitted. The third point illustrates that not all demand is reflected in the waiting lists as people are being turned away and not added to the lists. This last point understates demand pressure.

And here's the response from the author of the study pointing out that Brodbek's outrage is aimed at the wrong target:

From her response:

Tom Brodbeck is scandalized that we can't say with precision how many individual children are on child-care waiting lists, confident that there are no duplications. So are we.

But let us direct our outrage at the appropriate targets. No public office keeps track of something as simple and important as a central child-care wait list. In fact, as a province, we have virtually no public planning capacity or public management of child-care services.

In dismissing this very real problem, Brodbeck's column missed the boat.

He appears to not be the only one...

calgal said...

You can toss numbers around til the cows come home, but here's a couple of points from a parent of two young kids: the day care situation is utterly abysmal, no matter who's skewing what and I speak from experience. If a parent can even find a suitable place to park their kids before and after school, the fees are so high that in most cases, it becomes pointless for a mother to even hold a job, because well over 60% of her net pay is going to go to the day home. Her expenses are going to increase in terms of transportation, clothes, lunches, etc. - so unless she's got a very high paying job, it's a waste of time. And if you are talking about full time care for kids who aren't yet school age, you can imagine it's a whole lot more money.

Our government punishes us twice over - first for wanting to stay home and actually raise our kids ourselves, by not providing any substantial tax breaks or incentives, and then again by making it virtually impossible to get into the job market in a worthwhile way.

That Harper and his nasty little $100.00 a month is just another conservative slap in the mouth to the working class. Not that I would ever expect anything better of a capitalist, but they do seem to have a pathological need to hurt the very people who make their excessive lifestyles possible in the first place.

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