National Daycare… PLEASE!

I have a young family. We have a reasonable mortgage ($900)… I have a good, full-time job that I commute to everyday (200km return, about 2.5 hours everyday).

We don’t spend extravagantly, we have a cat. We have some debt, mostly from pre-baby renovations, and a car loan, but it’s being managed.

My wife has been on maternity for almost a year now… soon, that will end, and she will either have to go back to her job at a Big Box retailer where she earns maybe $700-$800 a month, or go to school, or stay home.

She doesn’t want to work there forever, she’d rather get into something with a future. So instead of going back to work, she’s going to College to upgrade and then enter into a 2 year program that will then either place her into work at the end, or she can continue and get her Bachelors, with the same work placement at the end of that.

But what do we do with our young child in the meantime? My wife will be at school fulltime, so my child will have to be in daycare… somewhere.

For how much? Going rate is $800+ a month in many places… that’s nearly another mortgage!

My wife is trying to become a highly skilled worker so that she can contribute more to our family and to society and our community in general. But if she goes to school full time, and thus can’t work… then how do we pay for daycare for the baby?

It’s not like I don’t have an excellent, full-time, full-benefits job. I do. Most people would be quite happy in my position, especially since I’ve only been in the regular workforce for 5 years now. But yet if we have to somehow come up with $600-800 for daycare… frankly, I odn’t know how we can do it. Especially considering we’ll need to insure a 2nd car for her to get to school and potentially drive the baby to daycare and back.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, there has been talk for over 10 years now of a new National Daycare system. Similar to the healthcare system where the Federal Government provides money to the Provinces to provide daycare services to anyone who needs them and, presumably, and a significantly lower rate than current private business.

In my view, this is essential if we want our economy to continue to grow and our society to prosper. Gone are the days when the Man of the Household can support his wife and family at home. Not only are those ideas passed, but the reality is that the cost of living is simply too high to do it. Both parents *must work* in order for a family to have an acceptable standard of living.

That means that daycare will become an essential part of every families evolution.

StatsCan just published in their “Daily” some stats on Daycare usage in Canada.

Between 1994 and 2001, the percentage of Canadians using Daycare has risen steadily, from 42% to 52%.

It’s obvious this trend will continue.

In Quebec, which is the only province with a daycare system… 61% of people used daycare in 2001.

It is also clear in these statistics that single parents absolutely rely on daycare in order to provide for their families and better themselves. Without it… they’d be sunk.

In 2000/01, 85% of children aged six months to five years who lived with a single parent who worked or studied were in some form of child care. This was a significant increase from 78% in 1994/95.

So why do we need a National daycare system? Simple. To drive costs down and provide equal services to all. In Quebec, the cost is $7/day for your child to be in a provincially run daycare centre and they have been recognized as having some of the best trained and well staffed centers in Canada.

$7/day… for us, we’d probably use it at least 3 days a week… that’s about $85/month.

That’s a helluva lot more manageable than $600-$800… plus I know that my child is getting quality care from accredited centers.

I might have to pay more taxes for this system… yes. But again, that’s a lot cheaper for me than $800 a month. Plus for those without children who are asking “why am I paying others to have kids” they can rest assured that instead of being trapped at home caring for children and receiving even more government subsidies, in the form of childcare benefits, welfare, and EI, those mothers and fathers are at work, or at school, providing for their family and educating themselves so that they can be productive, tax paying, members of society.

And that will ensure that those children are given the best chance of becoming productive and successful themselves.

And that, in the end, is what matters.

14 thoughts on “National Daycare… PLEASE!”

  1. Your creditentials as a true socialist are pure and unblemished, Chris. I salute your advocacy for a true Canadian Nanny State (excuse the pun). Personally, I’ve got great rationales for government programs here in the US which would solve all of my and my family’s problems, too. Unfortunately,those government programs soon run out of money when the birth-rate is too low to provide the tax-payers the income to support all these schemes. Check with Euros. The low birth-rate, among other factors, finds the Euros being forced to rethink a lot of things. Hope they figure it out before it’s too late.

  2. What about evening classes for college. Many American parents do that. I have friends with small children who have Mom at home all day while Dad works. Dad then is home in the evening while Mom either works or goes to school. They sacrifice until the kids are in school all day. That works for a lot of families. The bigger the struggle, the greater the reward.

  3. Evening classes aren’t an option for us unfortunately. And part-time just isn’t worth it. Stretch out the cost of school… still have to have some daycare… and still can’t work.

    THe only reasonable options are all or nothing, and we’d rather she be working as hard as she can to complete her education as fast as possible so that she can start paying taxes rather than receiving government aid.

    It’d be cheaper for us to just all quit work and live off welfare and child benefits. Seriously… its’ ridiculous.

    And we’re a pretty darn well off family. We don’t have much to complain about. Others are far worse off than us… what do they do? Live off the government until their kids go to school. That’s just not acceptable.

  4. Chris, if the cost to you is less, the cost to someone else must be more. You can figure out a way to make it happen without resorting to forcing others to pick up the tab for your choices.

    Might I suggest something that I’ve seen many folks do. Find a fellow student in the same situation, and swap sitting duties. Perhaps a group of two or three, and everyone gets their child care free while being able to attend school.

  5. Indeed, there are always options. I thank you both for your suggestions, they are all things we are considering. We will find a way.

    I just wanted to make my opinion known given that this is will be a topic of intense discussion once the Government presents its’ Budget in the next couple weeks.

    The point is this:

    It is far less costly for all involved, and that includes taxpayers without children, if we have a Federally funded daycare program.

    In Canada it is all too common for people to simply have kids and then not work at all until the kids are ready for school. The whole time being supported by government grants, welfare, EI, whatever. And then by the time the kids CAN go to school, they’ve lost 5 years of time that they could have spent in school or at work bettering themselves and providing for their family AND paying taxes.

    Personally, I’d rather see my tax dollars go into a system that will ensure that more people pay tax with me, rather than encourage people to stay home and live off my hard earned money.

  6. My apologies to you Jane, I didn’t notice that your first comment got moderated for some reason. I noticed it sitting in the queue just now.

    I also noticed today that the Comments weren’t showing up as they should have been in the permanent link. They do that now too.

    The “Nanny State” as you so aptly put it is something that is very dear to Canadians hearts. However, I think the rationale behind it is somewhat misunderstood by our American friends. I think many people assume that we simply want the Government to pay for everything.

    That’s not accurate. I believe that most Canadians support things like National Daycare and Health Care because we believe in our hearts that *everyone* deserves the same chance at living life to its’ fullest. If that means that we all have to pitch in to do it, then that’s ok, because in the end, it means a fair shot.

    I don’t know if this welfare state is sustainable through the baby-boomers retirement. Frankly I don’t think you, or anyone does, but what I do know is that even if we have to scale back, the Canadian people will continue to holdon to the basic values that gave rise to it in the first place.

    At least I hope that to be the case… because that is essentially the Canada that I know and love.

  7. I’d love to see the federally funded day care program. I had no idea the going rate was $800 per month – that’s ridiculous.

    My wife and I are considering starting a family but my wife will be in school for another 3 years. She is pursuing an advanced degree and will pay plenty in taxes in years to come. Delaying her degree, and thus her earnings, by having to stay home to provide childcare does not make economic sense.

  8. No offense intended, but maybe people should not have childern if they would be in such financial straights as to require financial assistance to raise them. Otherwise you are saying that people should fund your choices regardless of their wishes.

  9. Bill:

    a) All too often you do not “decide” when to have children.

    b) As I’ve said in my article, I have a very good job. However, I had no idea just how expensive childcare was, and if *I* can barely afford the going rate, then there is no doubt that there are millions of others who are in far worse shape than me.

  10. Ah heck.. I might as well just say it since I got my T4 back yesterday.

    Last year, I made just over C$50,000 before taxes.

    Would *you* consider that to be insufficient to raise one child?

    Last I checked, not everyone in the world was a doctor or a corporate millionaire.

  11. Oh, and no offense taken.. I don’t intend this to sound whiny or bitter. I’m simply expressing my frustration with something that I would have assumed should be a lot less stressful.

  12. We don’t need government run socialized daycare. That forces people who don’t want/trust the government to raise their kids to either use the system, or fend for themselves.

    What we could use are either tax credits for working parents (or all parents) or some sort of rebate system for daycare.

  13. I’m not sure where “trust” comes into it.

    Paul Martin (or Gordon Campbell since it’s actually Provincial jurisdiction) won’t be taking care of my child.. the child care worker will. And I would evaluate that worker based on the same gut instinct and research that I do right now with the current system.

    It’s up to the parent to decide where they put their children.

    You’re also assuming that the system would take its’ cue directly from the Health Care system which totally eliminates private delivery.

    I don’t think that will be the case. I’m willing to bet that there will simply be a system of accreditation whereby current child care centers can become accredited and receive subsidies. All centres would not be required to get accredited, and subsidized.

    Would it create a two-tier system? Perhaps.. but in this case I don’t see it as that much of a problem because it would simply work as private educational institutions work now.

    The goal of universal and affordable childcare is still achieved.

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