Saturday, April 15, 2006

Open Letter on Childcare

I sent this to my MP in Calgary Centre, Lee Richardson, to both his riding and parliament address. If your MP is a Conservative, consider sending something similar.

Mr Richardson,

I am one of your constituents and, like the majority of Albertans, I oppose the cancellation of the federal/provincial child care agreement. Replacing it with $25 a week, or whatever the post tax amount ends up being, is completely insufficient. It will not help a parent find a childcare space - it certainly won't help her pay for a space if she does find it.

Even the Minister responsible has admitted that the proposed tax credits to businesses scheme that failed under Harris will not likely produce any childcare spaces federally either. So the government's increasingly vague promises of over a hundred thousand new childcare spaces seems to be based on nothing more than good intentions.

The government's position in this matter seems to be policy in service to an ideology offended by women in the workforce. It amounts to discrimination against families that can't afford to be single income households, and against single mothers who have no choice. A government so viscerally opposed to the public sector in all forms even to the detriment of the best interests of Canadians. This is how it seems to me, a Calgarian. How does it look to the Central Canadians the Conservatives are so assiduously courting I wonder?

This government should remember that six out of ten Canadians voted for other parties ranging in the main, from center-left to social democrat. This government should consider carefully that even here in blue sweep Alberta across political lines, Albertans oppose the Conservative plan on childcare.

Continuing the federal/provincial agreements is pragmatically, macro-economically and ethically the better decision. The government should re-consider it's stand on this matter.

Cliff Hesby, Calgary Centre


Anonymous said...

The tail doesn't wag the dog. If Canadians wanted the daycare you propose, they would have either voted Liberal or NDP. Lucky for us they voted Conservative.

Cliff said...

Only four out of ten of them. Six out of ten Canadians voted center-left to socialist. Additionally many Tory voters oppose the Harper childcare non-plan.

Welcome to my blog. Future postings will require something better than 'anonymous'.

wilson61 said...

Cliff, as the StatsCan report on childcare pointed out:
16.4% of children in childcare are in institutional spaces.
32.8 % in childcare are with family/nannys/others... these would not benefit from the Lib proposal to send money to the provinces & hope it goes to childcare.
46% of preschool children are cared for by a parent.

So, PMSHs childcare will benefit 78.8% of the children currently in childcare that the Lib cash toss will NOT help.

Cliff said...

Cliff, as the StatsCan report on childcare pointed out:
16.4% of children in childcare are in institutional spaces.
32.8 % in childcare are with family/nannys/others... these would not benefit from the Lib proposal to send money to the provinces & hope it goes to childcare.

Actually it would help quite a few of them. The ones waiting, sometimes years for a child care space to open up, and the ones who couldn't afford a space now.

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

The Stats Can numbers are an excellent buttress for the argument for the Liberal childcare plan.

I would also argue that single mothers trying to stay off welfare benefiting disproportionately over parents who can afford a 'nanny' does not bad policy make.

Richard_Cranium said...

I am sort of with ya on this one. I do not cozy up to paying for a new BMW or Disneyland vacation for a family who has a 150k annual income, while the 30k single mom can barely buy food. I advocate three things. One: Make it financially more attractive for a parent to stay home and raise their children rather than having to put them in day care out of financial necessity. Raise the spousal tax exemption to 20000 from 8500 for starters.
Two: Means test. Family incomes of a certain amount get 100 pecent of the per child day care allowance. Then it gets clawed back based on family income until it reaches zero. Much like the current GST rebate. Three: Provide tax incentives, interrest free loans or grants for those who start day care businesses. Provide employers with the same to start up "in house" day care for their employees, and employ day care workers.
My preference has always been, when possible, for children to be raised at home, with the guidance of a parent, rather than running in a herd at a day care center that they do not want to go to.

Cliff said...

The problem with the tax incentives to business plan is that it simply, unambiguously does not work. It hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried and even the Minister responsible has admited it probably wont work now after major business figures bluntly dismissed it. That's why the Conservatives now talk about vague consultation and some kind of childcare expansion plan in a year or so.

Whatever we may prefer as an ideal arrangement of full time parental homecare, policy should be based on reality not wistfull ideal reality.

The reality is that daycare is the most sought after child care solution for parents, particularly single parents. The Conservatives argue their plan is about choice, but what choice does a single mother who can't get a child care space and couldn't afford one if she could find it. $25 a week pre-tax certainly wouldn't cut it.

Cancelling a plan that will start to create affordable spaces takes choices away from her. I think the Conservative plan and cancellation of the Liberal plan will have the net result of creating poverty, creating welfare dependancy and continuing a cycle of poverty.

Richard_Cranium said...

I think one major reason society has lost much of its stability, grace and decorum is because so many women with children have been urged to, and are, fleeing the "incarceration" of the family for the "freedom" of the office. Nobody is forcing women to become moms, but if they do they should take their new responsibilities seriously and not pretend it is some hobby or part-time occupation, because it is not. Again I support child care as a financial or situational necessity, but not as a matter of sheer convenience.

Cliff said...


Ok, you get that whether or not the mother works isn't even a choice for most households? That in order to provide for their children most women have to work?

I mean congratulations to the tiny minority who are economically able to be single income families, but that is not the reality for the majority of Canadian families. It's certainly not an option for virtually all single parent households.

As to childcare not being something that should be a convenience to women, why-ever not?

Studies clearly show it's good for children to be introduced to daycare prior to pre-school, it's good for parents to be able to pursue the economic and psychological benefits of working and it's good for an economy dependant on greater productivity and a large workforce to survive.

Richard_Cranium said...

Cliff, for every article you can post on how good it is to dump your kids into daycare from toddler to school age, then preschool and afterschool programs, I can post one that states the exact opposite. So at the end of the day I would submit that both points of view have merit. And I categorize childcare with grandma or a relative as close to parental care. Only 16 percent are actually handed off to mass care facilities.

Cliff said...

We could see who has the biggest pile of academic papers supporting our view - I think I'd win that one.

We could ask the experts, teachers, pediatricians, childcare workers. I think I've got this crowd sewn up too.

We could ask the kids, who like my nephew, when they get a good childcare spot tend to fiercely love it.

And of course the opinion that matters most is that of the parents. Parents already lucky enough to have good childcare and those sitting on bulging waiting lists. Again the tide of opinion is clearly for daycare.

I think they'd also be pretty insulted to be told they are 'dumpping' their kids.

One of the most important benefits of pre-pre-school daycare is letting kids be with other kids, learning to socialize. With today's far slung sattelite suburbs and bedroom communities kids often have little opportunity to interact and learn to socialize outside of some kind of 'institutional' setting (I can use buzzwords too.) The benefits in early socialization can be huge.

What could be more natural than children getting to be with oter children?

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