Articles – Federal Election 2011


We need a child-care plan that covers the real costs
April 15, 2011
By Kelly Connor, City Mom, a blog that follows her adventures raising a daughter in the heart of downtown London, Ont.

Pregnancy should be a blissful time when a mamma-to-be should be resting, eating right and picking out baby names. Not a time for worry and stress. But almost immediately after the good news is shared, it’s on to reserving a spot on your daycare-of-choice waiting list.

Even though this unknown child will not actually attend the chosen centre for another year and nine months, it’s the first thing expectant parents are worrying about, next to a healthy pregnancy.

To what do we owe this worry and need? Is it a lack of daycare space, a deficit of funds, a shortage of professional caregivers, or all the above?

Canada is one of only a few developed nations without a national child-care plan. There is a $100-a-child monthly Universal Child Care Benefit that was put in place to offset the Tories’ elimination of the Liberals’ short-lived $5-billion child-care funding program. However, the problem with this benefit is that it’s taxable and doesn’t come close to covering the real monthly costs of child care.

With more and more women entering the workforce, quality child-care spaces are more important than ever. Only an estimated 20 per cent of children under the age of 6 have access to licensed child-care services, which leaves a whopping 80 per cent without care.

With parents in a frenzy to find stable child-care, unlicensed home daycares are becoming more popular. Unlicensed means unregulated, and studies show that these types of informal child-care options often don’t meet children’s developmental needs, and some even say they can be harmful…

Can we count on our government to protect our children? They are the future of our society and our most valuable resource.

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Debt by 1,000 tax cuts: An election special
By Ellen Russell, research associate with the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives
April 15, 2011

Stephen Harper knows he can’t come right out and reveal his radical agenda to downsize government. But if he gets his majority, expect Harper to slash and burn on the pretext that the federal debt and deficit requires massive evisceration of government.

Since he welcomes a future fiscal squeeze to justify his small-government agenda ….

Harper is accelerating Canada’s federal debt with his tax-cut vote buying. And that is just fine with him. It will give him all the more reason to cut deeply later. We are going to pay very dearly for these tax cuts if a majority Conservative government guts popular programs on the pretence of a sudden post-election alarm about the federal finances.

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The Appearance Of Choice: Income splitting just a tax break for high income earners, covered by a crafty political ploy
News & Views
April 7, 2011
By Angela Brunschot

Let’s play alternative history… when Tommy Douglas was fighting to bring in national health care, he buckled under the pressure and instead decided to offer Canadian families a lump sum each month as well as a tax deduction to pay for health care.

Where would that leave you and your family in the present day? Well, if you are in the upper echelons of Canadian income earners, you might be OK. In that case, you’d be taxed enough to get some money back and make enough to save ahead for medical emergencies.

For the vast majority of us on the other side though, our quality of life and overall health would suffer. …

The rhetoric of choice, the idea that one parent should have the option of staying home rather than paying into a national child-care system is deceptively attractive, says Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives….

If Harper really wanted to help “working families” who wanted to have one parent at home, then he would also be talking about living wages. Only when a family can truly live on one wage will parents have a real choice about child care….

So let’s play alternative history again. What if the Conservatives put the money from income splitting, which cost about $2.2 billion in 2007 when it was first studied, into  subsidized child care instead? Where would that leave you and your family?….

But for the vast majority of parents who do work, a child care system, with the government monitoring and increased capacity that entails, that would make a huge difference in the everyday lives of parents and children…..

Those are the benefits of a social program rather than a tax cut. Let’s hope Canadians can see that come May 2.


The foundation is finally ready to build national child care
Ottawa Citizen
April 7, 2011
By Elizabeth Payne

… Do governments have a role to play in supporting good quality child care? If you believe governments have a role in providing anything beside police, prisons, defence, roads and clean water -and I do -then child care should be high on the list. Without a coherent child care system, families whose children have the greatest need of high quality early childhood education and care are the least likely to get it. Enrichment in the early years, according to experts, is what separates those children who will go on to lead productive lives from those who will struggle. It is good for individuals and good for the economy….

It is time Canadian politics turned the page on this false choice: Canadian parents do not choose whether to work or to raise their children. The vast majority of them do both and would like some help making sure their children can get high quality child care while they are on the job.


We need a Canada that works for all generations: Investing an additional $22 billion in the standard of living of Canadians is fiscally smart when the payback is huge
Vancouver Sun
April 5, 2011
By Paul Kershaw

There is a silent generational crisis occurring in homes across the country, one we neglect because Canadians are stuck in stale political debates.

The crisis is clear when we consider a simple “Then and Now” story. Picture it: the mid-1970s in Canada. Boomers were moving beyond their sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll phase to start the more serious business of building families, communities and enterprises. The average household income for a young couple in their prime child-rearing years back then was $65,160 a year, after adjusting for inflation and expressing it in current dollars. In the mid-70s, just 54 per cent of young women contributed to household income.

Flash forward to the present, where the corresponding figure is 82 per cent of women, while young men’s employment rate has remained stable. Despite all this extra adult time in the labour market, the average annual household income for a young couple today is $68,300, just slightly higher than it was 35 years earlier.


Poverty, child care should top political agenda
By Christopher Smith, assistant executive director and Jeff Bisanz, director of the Muttart Foundation, a private charitable foundation in Edmonton whose interests include a focus on early childhood education and care.
Edmonton Journal
March 30, 2011

… As we head to the polls for the fourth time in seven years there are important matters to consider and critical questions to ask of our politicians. At the top of the agenda should be two issues the major political parties have all failed to address despite much rhetoric and promised action: first, the continued tragedy of child and family poverty; and second, the failure to introduce a national child-care strategy….

Child and family poverty has a high price that we all pay. Children who grow up in low income families tend to do worse in school, earn lower incomes as adults and require higher levels of social, health and justice services. The evidence is clear. Child and family poverty hurts us all.

Almost as disconcerting as our collective national failure to address child and family poverty is our persistent fumbling with respect to a national strategy for early childhood education and care. For more than a quarter of a century politicians have made promises on a national child care strategy. Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government first introduced such a notion in the mid-1980s, followed by subsequent Liberal promises and belated actions in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2006, the minority Conservative government finally pulled the plug on a national child-care strategy when it cancelled the bilateral agreements with the provinces to support early learning and care.

Given that the vast majority of young children now spend much of their early years in some form of non-parental care, the absence of national leadership in this area remains mystifying. While almost all of the other developed nations have national funding and delivery strategies in place, Canada, outside of Quebec, remains in an early learning and care limbo. International studies from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and UNICEF reveal Canada’s shameful position at close to the bottom of early childhood education and care rankings with other nations leaving us trailing in their wakes. There are regulated child-care spaces for only one in five children under five, and licensed child care remains unaffordable for many middle-and low-income families….