Child Care: it’s not Us and Them

This whole flap about the “Popcorn & Beer” comment has done only one thing. It has allowed people to forget about the real issue, which is child care, not whether “The Government is Better for your kids than Parents”. The latter is simply a scare-tactic and simplifies an incredibly complex issue that deserves SERIOUS debate.

To that end, here is my take.

First. I will describe my personal situation.

I am a father of a 19 month old girl named Jade. I have a very good, secure job. My wife is currently attending college in a 2 year program. My mother (Jades grandma) is a retired teacher with her masters in Special Needs and has been babysitting Jade since my wife started school. So believe me when I say I understand the value of family raising family.

When we were living in Victoria we faced a huge dilemna.

We owned a townhouse with a $900 mortgage plus strata and utilities and food and whatnot. Childcare was $600/month in a licensed daycare… parttime! $100 if we found, and trusted, a private individual to take Jade a few times a week.

Now that we’re in Port Alberni, things are a little better… the housing costs are cheaper.. the daycare is still too expensive, but we have a retired grandma to help us out (she even graciously makes food and whatnot for Jade.. which we protest but at the same time are always so appreciative of).

How many people would be able to make these sort of “arrangements”? I doubt very many. What’s more, the majority of Canadians who live in or near a city, I doubt many would be able to afford being “stay-at-home-moms” what with rising food, gas, and housing costs.

The crux of the matter is this. The Conservatives have over-simplified the problem. They think that by throwing $1200/per year at people, that will make them happy. What they refuse to acknowledge, though, is that this is a far more complex problem. $100/month not covering *any* form of child care outside the home is only the beginning.

It’s fine to say that they would give $100/month to families to spend on their children… but how will they ensure that that is actually making a difference to those families and more importantly to those children. Will the stay-at-home Mom now be able to afford to truly stay-at-home without taking on other things like 3 other children to help pay the bills? $100 a month isn’t going to make much of a dent in that case. This ignores single parentsas well. What are they do to? Live on Welfare so that they can collect that and the $1200 a month?

It’s funny how the people who look at bums on the street and yell “GET A JOB!” are the same ones who would approve of a program that gives people no other choice but to live in poverty.

Another point to make for those who say “the Liberals want to tell us how to raise our children”…. look at Quebec. They have the model that the Liberals are basically moving towards… are you saying that the largely (and strongly) Catholic population of Quebec *doesn’t* value the family unit? Come on… what the Liberal package is about is giving families the opportunity to access child care services at an affordable costs rather than the $600 a month that it is now. Quebecs rate is $7/day, or $140/month for accredited, licensed child care providers. So that… IF YOU DON”T HAVE… the option of raising your own children, you can send them somewhere you can be sure of the quality they provide, and sure that the price will not break you.

Remember also that day care remains a Provincial jurisdiction, so if the provinces want to take some of the money offered by the Federal Government/Liberals and put that towards bigger childcare subsidies, then they can do that.

In closing… the Conversatives are proposing a simplistic solution to complex problem. They do nothing to address early childhood learning programs, or access to day care facilities, or the quality of those facilities, or the quality of the people who take care of children.

They’re just saying “Here’s a cheque… now stop complaining”.

That’s not what a responsible government does. That smacks of not truly caring about what happens… as long as the complaining stops.