Is federal child care benefit good use of tax dollars?

By: Laurie Monsebraaten

Before Ottawa doles out any more financial goodies to families, it needs to tell taxpayers where the child care money went, researcher says.

By the end of this fiscal year, the Harper government will have spent about $17.5 billion on the Universal Child Care Benefit.

But nobody knows how parents are actually spending the monthly $100 benefit that goes to every child under age 6, says a new research paper being released Tuesday.

Ottawa can’t say if the money has eased the severe shortage of child care in Canada where more than three-quarters of mothers with young families work and where there are licensed spots for only 21 per cent of kids under age 12.

It doesn’t know if the money has made child care more affordable. Nor can the government say if the monthly cheques have helped more parents stay home with their young children, said child care expert Martha Friendly in her report…..

If Ottawa had put the money toward a national child care program, it would have funded an additional 700,000 spaces at the current average of $3,615 per space in public spending, she said….

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