Politicians hold key to children’s futures

Peter Ehrlich, The Toronto Star

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

I suggest that the degree of civilization in a society can also be judged by the effectiveness its child-care programs.

If so, Canada is failing as a civilization….

The Conservatives have committed $9 billion to Afghanistan, $2 billion to child care. What’s wrong with this picture? The Taliban have no plans to invade Etobicoke.

There is an important child-care related bill coming before Parliament. Bill C-303 would be the first step in a much needed national daycare program.

As NDP MP Denise Savoie, who moved the bill, says, “it moves us one step closer to building the foundation for a truly national, non-profit, affordable and high-quality child care program.”

This type of program would allow single parents to get back into the workforce andhelp protect you from big box corporate daycare.

A large Australian child-care provider is attempting to bring its business model to Canada.

The company, ABC, has already approached for-profit daycare centres in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., through its subsidiary 123 Busy Beaver Learning Centres, and inquired about buying them out.

This could allow providers like ABC to charge anything the market would bear, for cookie-cutter, no-accountability daycare.

With less competition in the child-care marketplace or political will from the feds, your child’s education could be compromised at the most crucial time of his or her life, from 4 months to 6 years old.

Past federal governments have refused to consider child care to be a form of real education and that is the problem. If they did, it would be part of the universal public educational system.

It’s not because it’s too expensive – the money is available. Governments just choose to spend it elsewhere, or not at all. The preferred political line is, “We have a budget surplus” or “We’re committed to Afghanistan.”

As Jane Mercer of the Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care told me, “Canada has made a choice to stand still on the issue of publicly funded child care while Quebec and the rest of the world moved ahead. … There is growing pressure on the prime minister and provincial premiers, with the exception of Charest, to acknowledge that we can be a just society only when we take care of our most vulnerable citizens – our children….

This means paying those who take care of our kids more than $30,000 a year.

You can use your influence to support Bill C-303 by going to buildchildcare.ca.