Why day care should be subsidized

The Review of Economic Studies /Oxford University Press Blog
By David Domeij and Paul Klein

The Nordic countries and France heavily subsidize pre-school child care. In Sweden, parents pay only about ten percent of the actual costs. As a result, about 75 percent of all Swedish children aged one to five are in formal day care. In Germany, where the availability of subsidized day care spots is strictly limited, that number is less than 60 percent, and those German children that are in day care typically spend only a few hours a day there unlike their Swedish counterparts who usually spend all day in a day care center. The consequences for female labour force participation are not surprising. In Germany, 58 percent of women with children up to the age of six were employed in 2004. The corresponding number for Sweden is 78 percent.

What is the case for subsidizing day care? Generally speaking, a market economy works best when the prices people face correspond to actual costs. If I pay in proportion to what I take out of the economy and I am rewarded in proportion to what I contribute, then I have an incentive to do what is best for the economy as a whole. However, the ideal market economy where all prices equal true (marginal) costs and incomes exactly reflect (marginal) contributions is not attainable in practice. Every society needs to fund some goods and services on a collective basis. To do this, the government has to levy taxes. As a practical matter, taxes are levied on income and consumption. So taxes inevitably distort choices by driving a wedge between the social benefit of working and the private reward from working. That’s a given. The question is not how to remove all distortions but how to minimize their damaging effects.

To see why day care subsidies should be part of a damage-minimization tax policy, consider an economy where people have to pay for day care out of their after-tax income. Suppose the pre-tax wage is €10 per hour and that the cost of day care is €2 per hour and suppose the income tax rate is 50 percent. For simplicity, consider a single parent who needs to buy one hour of child care for every hour that he or she works. The social benefit of working, net of real child care costs, is €8. The net reward, after taxes and day care costs, is €3. Thus the effective wedge is 5/8 or 62.5 percent. What is the effective wedge for people without small children? 50 percent of course. So, in this imaginary economy, the choices of parents with small children are more distorted than the choices of others.

There are strong reasons to think that such inequality of wedges is not a feature of the best possible tax system, the one that distorts as little as possible. To verify that properly, we need a mathematical model. But some well-informed intuition will do nicely for now. Presumably it is at least plausible that jellybeans and candy canes should be taxed at the same rate. Why not? So surely parents with young children should be taxed at the same effective rate as everybody else. In our little example, what would it take for the effective tax rate to be 50 percent for everyone? The answer is: a child care subsidy of 50 percent. Then the net reward for working would be €4 per hour or 50 percent of the benefit to society. This is of course not a coincidence. In general, to equalize wedges between people with and without small children, the thing to do is to subsidize it at the same rate as the marginal tax rate. Equivalently, day care expenses can be made tax deductible. Naturally, tax rates for everyone else will have to rise a bit to finance child care subsidies. But even when we take that into account, an equalization of wedges leads to a more efficient allocation of resources.

In the German context, there is another reason (beyond equalizing explicit tax wedges) to subsidize child care, namely that it encourages people to work who otherwise would have lived on social assistance. For single mothers in Germany, the incentives to work are particularly weak, and day care subsidies would strengthen those incentives. Meanwhile, encouraging people to move from living on social assistance into working for a living is good for the government budget, making child care subsidies cheaper for the public purse. We conclude that the best subsidy rate for Germany would be 50 percent.

Is formal day care good for children? The evidence is not entirely clear-cut, and many studies fail to find either positive or negative effects on outcomes later in life for children who went to day care. But a recent study by Havnes and Mogstad provides some very strong evidence that formal day care has been good for Norwegian children, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Gathmann and Sass find similar results for Germany. Thus there is no strong counterargument based on child development to the efficiency case for child care subsidies.

[David Domeij is associate professor of economics at the Stockholm School of Economics in Stockholm, Sweden. He received his PhD in 1998 from Northwestern University. In his research he has mostly focused on public finance and macroeconomics. Paul Klein is associate professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. He received his PhD in 1997 from Stockholm University. In his research he has mostly focused on public finance and macroeconomics. Their recent paper, “Should Daycare be Subsidized” has been made freely available for a limited time by the Review of Economic Studies journal.]

Income linked to kids’ health, school performance

CBC News

Children from lower income areas face a tougher road than children from higher income areas — and that inequality tends to increase as children go through school.

The findings are published in a report from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine, which states children living in poorer neighbourhoods are generally less healthy, use more healthcare and social services, and have poorer outcomes in school when compared to children with better socioeconomic backgrounds.

The study, How are Manitoba’s Children Doing, published by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, looked at almost all Manitoba children aged 19 and under from 2000 to 2010.

It measured well-being in four areas: physical and emotional health; safety and security; education; and social engagement and responsibility….

“The rate of child deaths was over three times higher in the lowest income areas compared to the highest,” said lead author, Marni Brownell.

Highlights from the 10-year study period:
* 42 per cent of child deaths in rural areas occurred in the lowest income areas where less than one quarter of the child population lives.
* 47 per cent of child deaths in urban areas (Winnipeg and Brandon) occurred in the lowest income areas (where less than one-fifth of the child population lives)…

With each additional vulnerability identified in Kindergarten, the likelihood of not meeting expectations for reading and math increases in step-like fashion as the child gets older, the study found.

  • Among children with no vulnerabilities in Kindergarten, only 10 per cent did not meet expectations in Grade 3 reading and 20 per cent in Grade 3 math.
  • Among children with three vulnerabilities in Kindergarten, more than half did not meet expectations in reading and over 55 per cent did not meet math expectations by Grade 3.
  • Among children with five vulnerabilities, about 70 per cent did not meet either reading or math expectations when they got to the third grade.
  • Seeing as the gaps tend to increase as children progress through school, the early and middle years of childhood may present opportunities for programs and interventions to reduce those gaps, Brownell said……

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Union of British Columbia Municipalities – Resolutions adopted at the 2012 Annual Convention

Victoria, BC


WHEREAS the UBCM has consistently endorsed resolutions prioritizing affordable, accessible early learning and childcare; AND WHEREAS with only enough spaces for 20% of BC children and fees as high as $1,915 per month, access to high quality, affordable early childcare and learning is a crisis for many working families and a concern that thousands of British Columbians have expressed:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM request that the provincial government work to improve access to high quality, affordable early child care and learning and list it among their top priorities.


The Resolutions Committee notes that the UBCM membership has consistently endorsed resolutions requesting that affordable, accessible child care and learning, including:

  • 2011-B65 which requested that the provincial government increase funding to childcare as part of a concerted effort to reduce child poverty and strengthen the economy of British Columbia;
  •  2011-B66 which requested that other orders of government make early care and learning a top priority by:
    • creating strong legislative frameworks;
    • significant new public investments to support the legislative frameworks;
    • consolidating Early Care and Learning into the provincial Ministry of Education; and
    • establishing an accountability framework that includes developmentally appropriate playbased learning in the early years and ensures positive outcomes for children;
  • 2010-B56 which requested that the Province ensure early childhood development remains a provincial priority for funding.

Resolutions adopted at the 2012 UBCM Annual Convention

Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM)
Victoria, BC


WHEREAS the UBCM has consistently endorsed resolutions prioritizing affordable, accessible early learning and childcare; AND WHEREAS with only enough spaces for 20% of BC children and fees as high as $1,915 per month, access to high quality, affordable early childcare and learning is a crisis for many working families and a concern that thousands of British Columbians have expressed:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM request that the provincial government work to improve access to high quality, affordable early child care and learning and list it among their top priorities.

The Resolutions Committee notes that the UBCM membership has consistently endorsed resolutions requesting that affordable, accessible child care and learning, including:

• 2011-B65 which requested that the provincial government increase funding to childcare as part of a concerted effort to reduce child poverty and strengthen the economy of British Columbia;

• 2011-B66 which requested that other orders of government make early care and learning a top priority by:
·· creating strong legislative frameworks;
·· significant new public investments to support the legislative frameworks;
·· consolidating Early Care and Learning into the provincial Ministry of Education; and
·· establishing an accountability framework that includes developmentally appropriate playbased learning in the early years and ensures positive outcomes for children;

• 2010-B56 which requested that the Province ensure early childhood development remains a provincial priority for funding.

Household finances: Should you stay at home or pay for child care?

Globe and Mail


…. It is a dilemma over which many parents wrestle: When does it make sense to put your career on hold and look after the kids versus going back to work and forking out the money for child care? Income, career development, the size of the family and the cost of care are some of the factors that play a role in this highly personal choice.

“How much money the individuals make dramatically impacts this decision, and clearly the number of kids you have makes a massive difference,” says Rick Robertson….

A family where the lowest-earning spouse has an income of $30,000 is clearly in a different financial situation than one where the lowest earner brings home $100,000, Prof. Robertson [associate professor of finance and accounting at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ont.] says.

Prof. Robertson provided this example: A family paying $600 a month for daycare needs to cover an annual bill of $7,200, before taxes. The arrival of a second child doubles that to more than $14,000, while a third would boost it to almost $22,000, all on a pre-tax basis. Costs vary greatly depending on where you live, but parents in big cities are likely grappling with monthly bills that are significantly higher….

Certified financial planner Alexandra Macqueen says that parents who drop out of the labour force are forfeiting not only the wages over the three, five or 10 years that they are not working, but also the time it will take them to regain that lost ground.

“If you lose out on a $10,000-a-year raise that you would have gotten by staying in the work force, over just five years that is $50,000,” she said. “When you look at that over a lifetime of earnings, that can be very financially significant.”

Leaving a job in your 20s or 30s – key career-building years – can make it difficult to get rehired, Ms. Macqueen says. “I worry when a Mom or Dad … decides to stay home for 10 years and then expects to get back into their work force where they left.”

University of Toronto economics professor Michael Krashinsky, who just began a study looking at what point the cost of child care starts to tip behaviour patterns, says that while some men choose to stay at home with the kids, in the majority of cases it is still women who exit the labour market. “Even though many women now earn more than men, typically it is the woman who considers dropping out.”

Of course, staying home or returning to work are not the only two choices. It is increasingly common for parents to adjust their working lives, cobbling together free care from grandparents, a move to a part-time job or shifting their hours to provide child care themselves, Prof. Krashinsky says. “Maybe one person works nights and the other works days … so the kid is getting care from the parents but the parents are being driven over the edge.”

For those who keep working, flexibility and availability are major factors in the work-child care balancing act, Prof. Robertson says. “Certainly, one of the two spouses has to have at least some degree of flexibility. Or that flexibility has to be purchased by paying the caregiver.”…

Generational divide

Stay-at-home moms are far less common these days than a generation ago. Statistics suggest that women are more likely to quit the work force while their children are young and return to work once their kids are in school.

In 1976, 31.4 per cent of mothers with a youngest child aged 5 or younger were employed. By 2012, that number had risen to 67.2 per cent.

In 1976, 46.4 per cent of mothers with a youngest child aged 6 to 17 were employed. By 2012, that number had surged to 79.3 per cent.

Source: Statistics Canada

UN food envoy blasts inequality, poverty in Canada

Les Whittington, Toronto Star

OTTAWA—Despite Canada’s riches, many Canadians are suffering from poverty, inequality and an inability to afford daily food needs, says a scathing United Nations report released Wednesday.

“What I’ve seen in Canada is a system that presents barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor, and aboriginal non-aboriginal peoples,” said Olivier De Schutter, the UN right-to-food envoy…

His report was based on an 11-day mission to Canada, his first investigation of what he called “a rich, developed country.”

“This is a country that is rich but that fails to adapt the levels of social assistance benefits and its minimum wage to the rising costs of basic necessities, including food and housing,” De Schutter said.

Last year, he said, close to 900,000 Canadians were turning to food banks each month.

His report also described the situation in many of Canada’s aboriginal communities as desperate.

“A long history of political and economic marginalization,” it said, “has left many indigenous peoples with considerably lower levels of access to adequate food relative to the general population.”

De Schutter urged Canadian governments to work together to develop a national food strategy.

Harper Majority results in Women’s rights setbacks

CUPE/The Canadian

(CUPE.ca) — The federal government promised that one of the priorities of the federal budget budget would be “supporting families and communities”. Unfortunately, the Harper Conservatives have failed miserably on this front, especially when it comes to the women and girls of Canada.

Women continue to face a number of challenges in the labour force. Women rely heavily on public services. They often hold precarious jobs, with less pay than their male counterparts. A lack of affordable, quality child care also places an extra burden on mothers of young children. Senior women are among the poorest in the country….

No child care

This budget did absolutely nothing to address the dire need to establish a national child care program. One of the key factors to preventing child poverty and stimulating the Canadian economy is for women and mothers to be active participants in the workforce. While many women participate in the paid workforce, mothers of young children (12 and under) are unemployed or underemployed because they have no affordable, quality care for their children. But instead of supporting working mothers, this government offers meager payouts for families with young children, covering only a fraction of the cost of child care for most Canadian families.

Child care comes at an initial cost to the government, but provides significant returns through increased tax revenues. Investment in child care virtually pays for itself. At the same time investment in child care creates jobs. Child care investments in Quebec have pumped an additional $5.2 billion into the Quebec economy. Plus, earnings from increased employment send 90 cents in tax revenues back to federal and provincial governments for every dollar invested.

The federal government must build high-quality, affordable, inclusive and publicly delivered early childhood education and care services across Canada, with equitable access for all children and families. The market-based system we now have clearly does not work….

This federal budget has done nothing to improve the lives of women and girls. For many, it has made life worse. We need a federal presence to achieve equality for women, not abandon it.

New Democrat Claire Trevena tables motion to protect the rights of B.C. children


VICTORIA – Claire Trevena, the New Democrat critic for children and families, introduced a motion this week that would see the rights of B.C. children are considered in all relevant government legislation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“As legislators we have a duty to protect children and youth through ensuring what we do, and what we propose, will have a positive impact,” said Trevena, the MLA for North Island. “This motion asks that the House agrees that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child should be used when considering the impact of legislation.”

Trevena said the motion was formed in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the UN which recognizes all children as entitled to all the rights and freedoms set down in the charter, without distinction of any kind.

“Under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, the best interests of the child are central,”said Trevena. “The convention covers a range of issues, from guaranteeing a child’s rights to identity through to protection from sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, trafficking and economic exploitation.

“The convention also upholds fundamental principles, such as the right of every child to an education, and a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.”

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2012 Federal Budget Reactions


Budget: Highlights of the 2012 federal budget
Postmedia News
Compiled by Kirsten Smith and Dan Neutel
March 29, 2012

Reactions to federal budget:

What’s Missing in Budget 2012?
Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children
April 13, 2012

Federal budget drags Canada into age of austerity: Think tank
CCPA – Alternative Federal Budget
March 29, 2012

OTTAWA—All Canadians will pay the price for a federal budget that will result in significant job losses, weaker environmental protection, and unnecessary cuts to cherished public services, says the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The CCPA says once the government’s three rounds of spending cuts are fully implemented, they will have resulted in a total of over 70,000 full-time job cuts (35,000 in the public sector and 37,000 in the private sector) and could raise the unemployment rate to 7.8%.

“This may be a 2012 budget but it’s got the 1930s written all over it,” says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald. “Federal austerity, combined with provincial austerity budgets, will create a fiscal drag on Canada’s economy.

“We are dismantling public programs and peeling back income supports such as Old Age Security without asking profitable corporations and the wealthy among us to do their part. We saw a similar story unfold in the 1930s and it didn’t end well. History is repeating itself.”

“After six Harper budgets, the corporate share of federal revenue has fallen to 1930s levels, millionaires are paying taxes at rates last seen in the 1920s, and the top 1% are capturing more of the gains from growth than at any time in history,” says CCPA Senior Economist Armine Yalnizyan.

“This budget fails to address the pressures of a middle class losing ground and young people struggling to find work,” says Yalnizyan. “It takes us backward in terms of retirement and environmental protection. With the exception of education and water needs for First Nations, it ignores the need to repair our aging infrastructure. The books will be balanced, but we’ll all pay the price.”

2012 budget cuts not in the Canada’s best interest, says economist
Georgia Straight
By Stephen Thomson
March 29, 2012

The federal government’s 2012 budget includes cuts that will create unnecessary “austerity” for Canadians, says a B.C. researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“It makes no sense that we’re making cuts at a time when we are ahead of schedule in balancing the budget,” Iglika Ivanova, economist and public interest researcher with the think-tank….

“It shows clearly that the cuts are not motivated by economic or fiscal necessity. They are motivated by ideology, by a desire to shrink the size of government, and that’s why we’re seeing cuts,” she said….

“What I think this budget does basically is bring austerity unnecessarily to Canadians.”

Ivanova said the government is trying to balance the budget soon to meet pre-election promises like introducing income-splitting measures and increasing the annual contribution limits to tax-free savings accounts.

“They’re trying to save money by cutting services for the people who are struggling, from the more vulnerable Canadians, so they have money to offer tax cuts to the wealthier Canadians,” she said. “That’s something that cannot be explained by economic necessity. It’s not in the best interest of Canada.”

Canadians OK with higher taxes to fight inequality

Meagan Fitzpatrick,CBC News

Canadians are willing to pay more taxes to help close the growing income gap and want corporations to pay higher tax rates too, according to a new poll….

The survey of 2000 Canadians, commissioned by the ..Broadbent Institute, found that 23 per cent are “very willing” and 41 per cent are “somewhat willing” to pay slightly more tax in order to protect social programs such as health care, post-secondary education and pensions.

The Broadbent Institute, …argues that protecting social programs would help reduce income inequality.

Liberal and NDP voters are the most supportive of this proposal, the results showed, but 58 per cent of Conservative voters are also in favour of it.

“This attitude toward paying slightly higher taxes is reflected equally in high-income and middle income Canadian households. It’s only their governments who are offside,” the report, the first from the newly established think tank, said.

The phone survey was conducted between March 6 and March 18. The results are considered accurate to within 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

A majority of Canadians – even wealthy ones – are behind the idea of raising income taxes on people who earn more than $250,000 and more than $500,000. The poll found 83 per cent are in favour of that idea.

And 73 per cent agree with raising corporate taxes back up to 2008 levels. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has steadily lowered the rates since taking office in 2006, arguing the tax breaks help corporations create more jobs. The NDP and Liberals are opposed to the lower rates, saying they haven’t helped create new jobs and that corporations are just sitting on higher profits.

The survey, conducted by Environics Research Group, found that a majority of Conservative voters support higher corporate taxes.

It also shows that 69 per cent of Canadians support the introduction of an inheritance tax on any estate valued at more than $5 million.

The Broadbent Institute says the poll shows that the problem of income inequality is not an ideological one and that even the wealthy agree that they should play their part in addressing it.

It calls on governments to match public opinion and take action to reduce income inequality.

The survey showed that 77 per cent of respondents agree that widening income gaps are a big problem for Canada that will have long-term consequences and 71 per cent agreed that income inequality undermines Canadian values.

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Surrey Board Of Trade Wants a New Deal for Families, Focus on Generation Raising Young Children to Benefit Economy

Surrey Board of Trade

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The Surrey Board of Trade released, yesterday, the Business and Families Position Paper, asking provincial and federal governments for a New Deal for Families.  A New Deal is necessary because UNICEF ranks Canada among the worst industrialized countries for adapting policy to the declining standard of living for the generations raising young children.  These generations are squeezed for time at home, because it now takes two adults to earn what one income often did a generation ago.  They are squeezed for income, because housing prices increased 149 per cent in BC since 1976.  And they are squeezed for services like child care, which often cost the equivalent of a second mortgage,

“Parents are an integral part of the labour market. The business community pays a price when employees with young kids bring their time and service squeeze to their jobs.  The work-life conflict experienced by parents raising young children today is costly for employers.  The result is higher absenteeism rates for this group of employees, greater turnover, and increased use of extended health benefits – all of which employers pay for”, says Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.

In the absence of policy that responds to the declining standard of living for generations raising young children, costs are now displaced on to business. Work-life conflict among employees with preschool age children costs the BC business community in excess of $600 million per year, and the Canadian business community in excess of $4 billion.  These costs include employee turnover, absenteeism and health care premiums. It’s a costly issue: Health Canada estimates that when work and family demands collide, it costs Canadian businesses up to $10 billion a year to cover the cost of absent workers or hire/re-train new employees for those who leave. Given this economic impact, a New Deal for Families is important to the Surrey Board of Trade.

Several lower mainland business leaders, including Warren Beach, CFO at Sierra Systems, Debi Hewson, CEO of Odlum Brown, and Yuri Fulmer, CEO of FDC Capital share the Surrey Board of Trade’s concern about the price the business community pays for the squeeze on the generation raising young kids. See their 4 minute video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfA5ZCcCLBU&feature=player_embedded#

Surrey is a young city that is growing at a phenomenal pace of 900 new families per month. Population projections depict that the overall population will increase from 483,260 in 2011 to 578,830 by 2021 – an increase of 95,570 people over a 10 year period. The increasing stress on families is captured by the most recent Early Development Instrument results, which show that one in three Surrey-White Rock children are vulnerable when the start kindergarten. Since the entire generation raising young children is squeezed, most vulnerable children reside in middle- and upper-income homes and neighbourhoods. Based on the 2011 Child Care Gap Assessment by the Children’s Partnership of Surrey-White Rock, Surrey has only nine licensed child care spaces for every 100 children aged 0 – 6. Surrey and Langley have the lowest ratio of spaces to children (compared to West Vancouver with 25 spaces for every 100 children and Vancouver with 18 spaces for every 100 children. More than 41% of all refugees to BC reside in Surrey.

The Surrey Board of Trade is asking provincial and federal governments to address the time, income and service squeeze facing the generation raising young children.  This requires:

1.   INCREASE CHILD CARE SUPPORTS: Reform the child care subsidy system so that parents pay no more than $10/day (full-time) and $7/day (part-time) making it free for families earning less than $40,000/year. Ensure quality services by providing funding for ample caregivers on site so that children spend their time in developmentally stimulating activities and play, including children with extra support needs. Caregivers will have appropriate training in child development and will be paid pay equity wages. $10/day child care services must supplement, but never replace, what parents do at home.

2.   CREATE INCENTIVES FOR FLEXIBLE & FAMILY FRIENDLY WORKPLACES: Create and implement tax incentives to support employers to develop family friendly workplaces that include features such as Family Responsibility Leave, a culture that supports work-life balance, alternative work arrangements, and recognition of child and elder care issues.

3.   HEALTHY CHILD CHECK IN: Introduce a healthy child check-in and parenting support program during a child’s first 18 months.

4.   PARENTAL LEAVE: Conduct additional research and explore how to extend parental leave beyond 12 months to make it affordable for dads and moms alike, including the self-employed, to split 18 months at home with a newborn.

The Surrey Board of Trade knows that this is the first time that any Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce has taken this approach in Canada.  It does so to promote a strong economy, and a healthy, safe society that ensures Canada remains a great place to raise a family.

Download the detailed Surrey Board of Trade Position Paper

At International Women’s Day event, Judy Rebick examines feminism in the age of Occupy

Jarrah Hodge, Vancouver Observer

…International Women’s Day (March 8) is a chance to reflect on past gains and refocus on current struggles.

“Women still in Canada make 72 per cent of men’s wages on average,” .. “Women who belong to unions are more likely to have pension plans, they’re more likely to have close to parity in wages, they’re more likely to have advancement opportunities and also have grievance processes available to them if they’re being discriminated against or having difficulties in the workplace.”…

“We really achieved a cultural revolution,” she said. “The change in attitude in one generation has been revolutionary… women stepping did that, women fighting back did that, women joining together did that.”

Rebick noted that from the late 1960s to 1980s, Canadian women won reproductive rights, legal abortion, enshrined equality in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, increased awareness of violence against women, and made advances on pay equity and employment equity.

She noted the role labour unions have had in advancing women’s rights, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who in 1981 went on strike for maternity leave and ended up winning that right for women across Canada.

“We achieved a lot, but we still have a way to go,” Rebick added, singling out particularly the struggle to end trafficking of women and to end a “rape culture” that blames victims for their assaults.

Through the history of the women’s movement, Rebick noted there has been a cycle of advancements and backlashes. But she credits a new generation of young activists such as those involved in the Occupy movement with making sure we haven’t had our rights eroded in the past few years…

“More and more what we’re seeing is that women’s issues are connected to all the other issues,” Rebick …

Read more online

Reactions to BC Budget 2012

Media Release – BC Budget 2012 = No good news for families with young children

Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC
February 22, 2012


What’s your opinion of the provincial government’s priorities in the budget released Tuesday by B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon?
Province E Street
Feb 26, 2012

Terrible news for working parents. Paying more for MSP and no investment in early care & learning. If there is any mention of child care/early learning in the speech, or anything that would actually make a positive difference for children and families, I have missed it.
– Sharon Gregson, East Vancouver


‘$100 million in cuts to public schools next year alone,’ says BCTF president
CBC News
Feb 21, 2012

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With funding for school districts virtually frozen over the next three years, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation says inflation and downloaded costs will place pressure on school boards.

“This means $100 million in cuts to public schools next year alone,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert, noting $130 million would be needed just to keep up with inflation.

“A whole generation of students have grown up going to school in larger classes without adequate support … Now we’re looking at another three years of ongoing cuts and increasing demands on teachers to fill the gaps and meet students’ needs.”

‘Built on thin air’

Teresa Rezansoff, B.C. School Trustees’ Association said the budget amounts to a cut for K-12 education. “We asked for increased investment in public education but for us to throw up our hands and say we’re not going to work hard with what we’ve got to make sure the outcomes for our students are the best they’ll be –that is our job and that’s what we’re doing.”


First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition disappointed with BC’s new budget

People looking for investments in BC’s children and youth were sorely disappointed with BC’s new budget released on February 21st. First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition was looking for the budget to recognize the importance of supporting families raising children, particularly those who are struggling to get by on a low income. The Coalition was also hoping that the budget would address some of the urgent issues affecting the lives of the most vulnerable child and youth populations, and to tackle BC’s growing inequality.

Some highlights of First Call’s concerns about the budget include:

  • The continued neglect of the need for additional funding for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to reduce the caseloads of child protection social workers and adequately support children in the foster care system. A flat-lined budget and rising costs means this ministry will have to make cuts.
  • No progress on solving the child care crisis affecting families with young children. No relief from high fees, insufficient spaces and low wages for child care workers. No plans for increasing access to quality early childhood care and learning for preschoolers. Alarmingly, in the Ministry of Education service plan, government’s target for the percentage of children who enter kindergarten developmentally ready to learn has been lowered from the previous 85% by 2015 to 75% by that date. Current data shows we are only at 70%, meaning almost 1 in 3 BC children enter school developmentally vulnerable.
  • The increase in regressive taxes like MSP premiums will hit modest income working families hardest.
  • Children in families facing hunger and housing insecurity due to already inadequate income assistance rates will be hungrier and in greater danger of becoming homeless as the cost of food and housing continues to rise while rates are frozen.
  • The cumulative funding deficit in public education continues to grow with this budget, depriving students with extra challenges of the supports they need while school boards struggle to decide what to cut even to pay their share of the MSP premium increases.



Iglika Ivanova — The false economy of BC Budget 2012: deficit exaggerated to avoid spending on real problems
February 21, 2012


The overarching theme of Budget 2012 was fiscal prudence. In choosing to aggressively pursue a balanced budget in 2013/14, the government decided not to tackle the serious social issues that BC families face: abject poverty and homelessness, growing income inequality and increasingly poor job quality.


BC Federation of Labour: Budget Squeezes More Out of Average Families While Economic Elite Come Out Further and Further Ahead
February 22, 2012

Vancouver, BC – The BC Federation of Labour called today’s budget a wrong-headed continuation of the policies that have put more money in the pockets of the richest British Columbians and BC Liberal insiders at the expense of working and middle class families.

“Working people in British Columbia are having a tougher and tougher time making ends meet because of the policies of this government,” said Sinclair.  “The 2012 budget, again, puts more money in the pockets of BC’s corporate elite while asking average working people to suck up wage cuts and fee increases.  This budget reflects BC Liberal policy to reward the one percent at the expense of the 99 percent.”  …



B.C. budget: ‘No one is immune,’ says Falcon in introducing tight budget
The Province
February 21, 2012
By Cassidy Olivier

…..Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s representative for children and youth called it a grim budget for families.

“This will hurt people who are poor or vulnerable,” she said. “There’s been a real abandonment of the premier’s families-first agenda. It’s a very harsh and punishing budget.”…

National Advocates Take Message to the UN That Canada Must Do Better to Improve the Lives of Aboriginal Children

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C. Representative for Children and Youth,
President of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates

A national plan is urgently needed to address the single most important systemic human rights issue in the country – the health, education and safety of Aboriginal children and youth.

The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) is taking that message to Geneva. On Monday, February 6, 2012, the Council will table a special report on Aboriginal Children – Canada Must Do Better: Today and Tomorrow – at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child….

The CCCYA’s report documents how Aboriginal children in Canada are disproportionately represented in the youth justice and child welfare systems. Not only do they have poorer health status, they lag significantly in educational outcomes, and they are too often the victims of sexual exploitation and violence. Their rates of death and injury are disproportionately high.

“There are significant deep-seated gaps between Aboriginal children in Canada and their non-Aboriginal peers,” said CCCYA president Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. “We believe that not only is this Canada’s most important systemic human rights issue, it is this country’s most neglected issue. Meeting our responsibilities to all children requires a clear, outcomes-directed, child-centered national plan.”

The CCCYA is an alliance of provincially/territorially appointed children’s advocates from 10 Canadian provinces and territories. Although their mandates differ according to the legislation that establishes each office, they share a common commitment to further the voice, rights and dignity of children, especially vulnerable children. The council’s report calls for a Canada-wide plan that will measure and report on progress so that all Canadians and the Council would be able to track progress, and to bring the voices of Aboriginal children and youth to the fore.

The Council is also renewing its call for a national Children’s Commissioner. The CCCYA joins other national and international organizations and leaders that have repeatedly called for creation of an independent statutory officer of the Parliament of Canada. The CCCYA strongly believes that effective oversight would centralize the focus and accountability necessary to improve the living conditions and well-being of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and youth in Canada….

Download CCCYA’s report

Robin Hood reversed: Income-splitting benefits mainly wealthy breadwinners

Jody Dallaire, Dieppe Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunity between Women and Men;Straight Goods

The federal government has promised to introduce a tax change that will benefit only higher income families, favour couple-families over lone-parent families, favour men over women, and create an incentive to women being economically dependent. The change also will be very expensive to taxpayers.

Gee, what’s not to love, eh?

Income splitting will also:

  • reduce the share of government revenue paid by high-income Canadians,
  • probably reduce provincial governments’ revenues,
  • remove people from the labour force at a time when Canada needs more labour force participation, and
  • widen the gap between the rich and the rest of us.

Not exactly what we need these days.

Read the article online

Legislative Q & A on Poverty Reduction and Access to Child Care


M. Elmore: The third and final Early Years Study report was released this week as well. All the provinces were ranked on early childhood education and child care policies, and British Columbia scored 4.5 out of 15. Only Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador scored worse.

Paul Kershaw from UBC’s human early learning partnership has argued that B.C. must do more to help families, with child care, parental leave and a better work-life balance. But the Liberals continue to ignore the very real need of families. To the Premier: what is she doing to make sure that parents in B.C. have access to improved child care?

Hon. G. Abbott: I am truly gratified to receive a question, even though it is rather late in the session.

I am very proud to be a part of a government that has invested over half a billion dollars in all-day kindergarten in order to meet the needs of young British Columbians. I am really proud to be a part of a government that has invested tens of millions in StrongStart opportunities across this province for young British Columbians.

I am further proud to be part of a government that has invested in neighbourhoods of learning, that will be investing in neighbourhoods of learning, to ensure that child care becomes a part of the educational environment as well.

Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.

M. Elmore: Well, the reality today is that B.C. scored 4.5 out of 15 — a shameful and embarrassing third from the bottom across Canada. It’s not families first when families can’t access child care. When B.C. moved to full-day kindergarten, the Liberals did it without considering the effect on daycares that provide after-school care, and they did it without considering the younger kids, the infants to four-year-olds that feed into the school system. Today we see that 20 percent of those same kids are living in poverty.

British Columbians need leadership from their government. When is the Premier going to put action to her “families first” slogan by committing to a poverty reduction plan?

Hon. G. Abbott: Well, I’m really surprised that this member would raise the kinds of aspersions that she has about early childhood education in British Columbia. It is really quite astonishing to hear these kinds of suggestions after, so very successfully, we have seen the introduction of full-day kindergarten in British Columbia. We’ve seen the introduction of StrongStart centres that are making a difference on a daily basis to thousands and thousands of vulnerable young British Columbians and their families.

I’m very proud of the record of this government. British Columbia has a good education system, and on this side of the House we are dedicated to making it a great education system for British Columbia.

See more online

Canada Fails Indigenous Children Says Joint Report to United Nations Committee by Caring Society and KAIROS


OTTAWA /CNW/ – Indigenous children face neglect, abuse and sometimes death as a result of Canada’s failure to live up to its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This is one of the findings in a joint report by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (Caring Society) and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives (KAIROS) in their submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The report, entitled Honouring the Children was released …at a news conference in advance of the UNCRC’s upcoming review of how well Canada is living up to the UN Convention.  When it comes to Indigenous children, Canada deserves a failing grade the report proves.

“Many Indigenous children do not have the basic necessities of life,” said Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the Caring Society. “Their communities lack access to clean water or safe, affordable housing. And some are educated in deplorable conditions.”

The report says some First Nations schools are contaminated by black mould and not properly heated.  One school was closed due to an infestation of snakes.  Another is closed an average of 22 days each year due to a lack of drinking water.

“These shocking conditions are due to historic and ongoing policies and practices that contradict Indigenous holistic traditions and fail to uphold Indigenous peoples’ rights,” said Ed Bianchi, KAIROS’ Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator.

Former Senator the Honourable Landon Pearson, a longtime advocate on the rights of the child and current Caring Society board member, said:  “These policies discriminate against First Nations, Inuit and Metis families and children and touch on all aspects of an Indigenous child’s life. Children are affected by violence against Indigenous women and unfair and unjust land rights negotiations.”

Drawing on official federal government documents, and illustrated with evocative words and images of and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, the report describes how current federal policies and practices are compounding historic injustices.

“We would like to ask the federal government why there are no schools in many of our communities and why so many of our schools are in such poor conditions,” said Caitlin Tolley, an Indigenous youth leader and First Nation Algonquin from the community of Kitigan-Zibi adjacent to Maniwaki, Quebec.  “We want to know why the level of funding we receive for education is less compared to communities in other parts of Canada.”..

Honouring the Children provides 13 key recommendations on how to begin to address the injustices faced by Indigenous children in Canada.  Fundamental to these recommendations is that the government works in meaningful collaboration with Indigenous peoples.

Generation HOW?

Tanya Beja, Global News

Generation HOW? is a month-long series on Global BC focusing on issues facing 18 to 35-year olds and how to make ends meet with the high cost of living in B.C.

Check out: www.globaltvbc.com/special/6442500168/story.html

Scroll till you see: Part two: Childcare costs

Throne speech offers nothing but empty pockets

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun

… Against that backdrop of tight finances, Clark and her B.C. Liberal government struggled Monday to say something encouraging about health, education, social services and other government programs while avoiding big-ticket spending commitments….

The alternative? “Government will facilitate a process for collective agreement improvements by working with ministries and employer groups to find savings through cooperative gains. The government will be asking public sector employers, unions and employees to join in this process.”…

In the most widely publicized example, the Hospital Employees Union managed to secure raises of three to seven per cent for licensed practical nurses by trading away some benefits and other contract provisions….

Overall, for the first throne speech by a new premier in 10 years, the end product was underwhelming.

“Out of gas, out of ideas,” was the characterization from Opposition leader Adrian Dix. But being out of money had more to do with it.

BC’S Throne Speech