Five years after the Harper government cut the National Child Care program, and after ridiculous statements by Minister Diane Finley suggesting a national child care program would force parents to force parents “to have other people raise their children," the debate over the need for a national child care program is back in the news.
With the Federal Budget announced and quickly dismissed by opposition parties, we are headed to a Federal Election this spring. National Child Care must stay on the public agenda.
On March 7th, 2011, the YWCA released the report Educated, Employed and Equal to point out the fact that social services such as child care have not caught up with the fact that the majority of women are now reaching higher levels of education and are participating in the paid workforce. To read the report, please click here.
Saturday, February 4th - Toronto Star's Laurie Monsebraaten wrote "Five Years On, Children Still Wait for Quality Care"
Monsebraaten reports that this is the 5th anniversary of Stephen Harper's first policy announcement as prime minister: that he would cut Canada’s year-old, $5-billion national child care plan.
Minister Finley's statement in the House of Commons on Friday has "propelled the issue back onto the political agenda with the Liberals and NDP vowing to make child care an issue in the next federal election," Monsebraaten says.
On a national level, fewer than 20 percent of Canada's children under the age of 6 have access to a licensed child care space. At the same time over 70 percent of mothers with young children are working in the paid labourforce. This means 80% of children have parents scrambling to find informal child care options such as neighbours, family members, and unlicensed child care providers.
But as the article points out, "numerous studies have shown that unregulated, home-based child-care businesses often fail to meet children’s developmental needs. Sometimes the care can be harmful," as is exemplified by the recent death of Duy-An Nguyen in Peel.
Sultana Jahangir, who founded the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization in 2007 to push for more subsidized child care, knows all too well how immigrant women and their children get lost in the city’s low-income apartment towers:
“They become isolated and depressed... it is not good for their children...These women need child care so they can go to school, improve their English and get work to provide for their families...The children need it so their mothers are happy and they are ready for school.”
Meanwhile, the Conservative government stands behind their policy. Finley’s spokesman Ryan Sparrow, in an email to the Star, stated: “Our Conservative government believes that it is up to Canadian parents . . . how they raise their own children, not the government”.
Saturday, February 4th - the Toronto Star published the editoarial "Parents deserve a real choice" as part of the Child-Care Challenge series.
The article reported that "Canada is so bad at providing child-care services that we tied for last in a United Nations study of 25 developed countries. The parents of 14-month old Duy-An Nguyen, who died in an unregulated home daycare in January, know well the lack of affordable safe care. Harper has tried it his way. It doesn’t work. Parents deserve better."
The article continues, "No one wants a one-size-fits-all model in which children are rounded up into daycares every morning. But the fact that not everyone wants or needs it is no reason to deny it to those who do. The 1950s are over. Stay-at-home moms are an increasing rarity. And, despite what Finley may think, mothers (or fathers) don’t give up being parents by putting their kids in child care. It just means they’re going to work — something they have a right to do and our economy needs."
The coming federal election campaign is the time to debate how to address Canada's lack of a national child care system or strategy.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is quoted as saying that his party would deliver “a national investment in learning” that starts with “early learning and child care for every child that needs it.”
The NDP’s child-care critic, Olivia Chow, has introduced a private member’s bill that would commit federal funding to high quality, universally accessible and affordable child care.
The Conservatives have shown nothing but disdain for child care and the transformative effect it can have on families and our economy.
To read the full article, please click here.
February 8th, Northumberland Today published the article "Rudd slams 'disturbing attack' on working families" providing a local response to Minister Finley's comments on child care.
'Liberal candidate Kim Rudd describes Finley's comments as a "disturbing attack on the majority of working families in Northumberland -Quinte West and in this country."
Describing herself as passionate on the subject of child care -- a field in which she has worked for 30 years -- Rudd issued a two-page media release stating that "unlike Ms. Finley, (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper and Mr. Norlock, most Canadians don't have incomes well in excess of $100,000 a year. They cannot afford to stay at home with their children. They work and they need good, affordable daycare. Are the majority of hard-working Canadian men and women less worthy as parents because they need daycare services?" '
To read the full article, please click here.
The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada; Campaign 2000; Childcare Resource and Research Unit; Canadian Union of Public Employees; Ad-Hoc Coalition for Women's Equality and Human Rights; and the Canadian Federation of University Women put out a press release entitled Five Years After Cancelling the National Child Care Program: High Cost, Little Choice for Parents.
"Cancelling the national child care program has put a huge burden on low, modest and middle income families," said Sue Delanoy of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. "Mr. Harper claims he's delivered 'choice in child care' but the facts show that for most families, the options are severely limited. What families need is a quality system that's accessible and affordable for everyone."
Laurel Rothman of Campaign 2000, a national group fighting child poverty explained: "The Harper government has spent $11 billion in scarce public funds and has nothing to show. Most parents are still scrambling to find child care. Instead, we could have been building a real child care system that by now could have offered 500,000 more families a choice of quality services."
"Five years ago, Mr. Harper made a choice that has put many parents and especially women in a tough dilemma," said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). "Parents who have to go to work don't have choices. They can't find a quality space and can't afford the high cost. It shouldn't be this way. A public option would give families the quality choices for their kids that all parents want."
To read the full press release, please click here.
This Magazine published the article "Why the Tories' $100-a-month child care plan isn't enough" pulling on arguments from child care advocates such as the OCBCC. Click here to read the article.
On March 8th, Cindy Marie Law from Toronto wrote in response to the article The case for child care: Women are still waiting
Cindy’s comment is “as long as child care is seen as a “woman’s problem,” it will continue to be a huge burden on women — and their families — and continue to hamper our personal, familial, social and economic development”.
Cindy believes that fathers need to start taking responsibility for the fight for National Child Care. As long as it is seen as a “Women’s Problem” it will not get the attention it deserves. Child care is not only a “women’s problem” but a problem faced by families.
To read the full story, please click here.