Families First? What it has been, what it should be

Paul Kershaw, Vancouver Sun

This month marks a year since Christy Clark became premier. She won the Liberal leadership with a “Families First” campaign. …Stalled incomes must cope with housing prices that are up 149 per cent over the same period, pay back larger student debts, and often pay another mortgage for child care services….

One year later, “Families First” is more slogan than commitment. The premier delivered one extra holiday in February, which she postponed. Families don’t have to pay for parking when visiting provincial parks. And the premier slowed hydro rate increases out of respect for family budgets.

Such changes barely scratch the surface of the generation’s sinking standard of living. They remain squeezed — for time at home, income after housing, and services like child care…

Influencing wages and housing prices is a difficult business for policy-makers. But ensuring that it does not cost parents the equivalent of a second mortgage to split 18 months at home with a newborn, or a third to pay for child care services, are definitely things we can achieve through social policy. Many other countries do, including those with a worse debt/GDP ratio than Canada….

So let me describe “Families First” differently….

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