Media Release - Throne Speech limits on federal spending would end child care dream

With speculation and rumours about a potential federal election, here is the Code Blue press release on what child care advocates are looking for in tomorrow night's Federal Throne Speech.

Media Release, October 14, 2007

OTTAWA -- Child care advocates will be closely monitoring Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne to see if Stephen Harper allies with Gilles Duceppe to limit the federal spending power. The federal spending power is the only available tool the Government of Canada has to launch a pan-Canadian child care program.

“This constitutional provision is the mechanism that gave us Medicare,” says Morna Ballantyne of the national advocacy group Code Blue for Child Care. “Ottawa’s ability to set conditions on the funding it makes available for social programs ensures that Canadians from coast to coast to coast enjoy the same fundamental social rights.”

Child care advocates respect the desire of Quebecers to control their own social institutions as a means of protecting their distinct culture,” says Ballantyne.  “But Quebec’s needs can be addressed without imposing on all Canadians a measure that makes sense only for Quebec.”

Bill 303, The Early Learning and Child Care Act, scheduled before Parliament this session does just that.  It places conditions on provinces and territories in receipt of federal funding for child care but allows Quebec to set its own standards.

“The federal spending power is essential if all Canadian parents and children are to enjoy access to the same level of child care available to Quebec families,” says Jody Dallaire, Chairperson of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.

Ottawa last used its spending power in 2005 when the then Liberal government signed bi-lateral agreements with the provinces for child care on condition they report regularly and direct the money to regulated services.

“Stephen Harper demonstrated his hostility to national programs when in his first act as Prime Minister he cancelled the child care agreements and has since reneged on his own promise to create 125,000 new spaces,” said Dallaire.