Parents, staff, and child care advocates in Toronto responded with disappointment today to the federal government’s continuing lack of commitment to children and families in its budget. Advocates have been calling for the restoration of the funding for early learning and child care that was cancelled by the Harper government last year.
“The federal government has let families down, again. Instead of showing real political will by reversing the child care cuts made last year, the Harper government is instead relying on its taxable child care allowance and recycling funds from its doomed child care spaces plan,” commented Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC). “This is a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed to build a real child care system.”
Today’s federal budget confirms that Stephen Harper’s government is moving ahead with its scheme to create child care spaces through tax incentives to businesses and will also be transferring $250 million to the provinces and territories for early learning and child care.
Ontario is expected to receive $97 million of this – representing a cut of $352 million from what it would have received under the now-cancelled child care agreements. Currently less than 11% of children under 12 in Ontario have access to high quality, regulated early learning and child care.
“Giving parents $100 a month has not made child care more affordable for parents, and tax incentives for businesses will not create enough new child care spaces in Ontario or across the country,” said Shellie Bird, OCBCC President. “For children to have access to regulated, non-profit child care, and for their parents to stay in the work force, we need to see a bigger, long-term commitment to child care from this government.”
According to the OECD, Canada spends the least on early learning and child care, compared with 14 industrialized countries. Less than a quarter of a percentage point of Canada’s gross domestic product is put toward early learning and child care, and most of that spending happens in Quebec.
“This is our shame, as Canadians,” concluded Bird. “Why does this government think that children in Canada deserve less than children in Mexico?”