Child-Care Flip: A Flop in the Right Direction?

One problem with the new Conservative child-care transfer appears to be that it would provide less money to provincial governments than the NDP-Liberal plan would have. Another problem is that it may entail even fewer guidelines about how the money is used. Nevertheless, this new approach seems much better than the Conservatives’ previous policy of providing tax cuts to employers.

A press release from “Code Blue for Child Care” follows:

Harper’s Flip on Child Care Shows Government’s Policies a Flop 

OTTAWA — Stephen Harper’s flip flop on $250 million worth of business tax breaks for child care shows the Conservative government can’t support its own ill-conceived child care policy.“The idea that child care spaces will come from tax breaks has failed miserably in the past,” said Morna Ballantyne, Coordinator for the Code Blue for Child Care campaign. “The Conservative government should have known this from the start,” she added.“The Conservatives also know the $1.2 billion cut in federal child care funding that takes effect April 1st is going to spell disaster for families across Canada. We need that cut reversed as well,” said Ballantyne.Code Blue is concerned that the $250 million originally earmarked for tax breaks will now be transferred to the provinces and territories with no requirements for accountability or commitment to sustained or expanded funding.

“Yes, transferring federal funds to the provinces makes sense because they’re the ones delivering child care programs, ” Ballantyne said. “But the federal government must ensure these federal tax dollars are spent in a way that gives families access to quality, regulated care. We’ve seen transfers used for anything but child care in the past.”

Ballantyne noted that this flip flop on child care fits what is becoming a Harper government style: ill-conceived policy directions that need to be reversed when it becomes clear that the direction is wrong-headed.

Code Blue is stepping up its campaign leading up to the next federal election with the launch of a cross-country child care tour starting in mid-April.

“Parents are filing their tax returns at this very moment and having to repay a good chunk of the so-called child care allowance. They know that the Harper government has done nothing on child care since being elected, making it harder for families to find affordable, quality care,” said Ballantyne.

Parents have expressed a lot of anger and frustration at the Harper government’s inaction on child care, Ballantyne added. “We’re going to channel those feelings into a significant force.”

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3 comments

  • I view this pretty similarly to the way I view the recently announced “$1.5 billion for the environment”. It seems pretty hypocritical to me that the Tories would crow about a $1.5 billion addition to funding for the environment, after CUTTING $3 billion. $1.5 billion sounds great, if you just ignore that it’s still $1.5 billion less than it would have been if the Tories had lost the election.

    Shifting this childcare money is, it’s true, a move in the right direction, but I’m wary of giving the Tories the credit they’ve been seeking of late, on a number of files, where they’ve moved back towards the policy that the Liberals (or Liberals and NDP) advocated after slashing the original plan.

    Harper gets no credit from me for taking one step forward, becuase I still rmember that the first thing he did in office (on many of these files) was to take two steps back.

    If you cut down two trees in 2006 you probably can’t convince people you’re increasing the size of the forest in 2007 just because you’re planting one tree. Voters are people, not goldfish.

  • Transfers are far from sufficient…and with all the flipping and the flopping that both the Liberals and the Conservatives have done on child care over the past thirty years (!),I am hardlt grateful that they may once be moving slightly in the right direction. People should be demanding comprhensive policies to care for their families. Ballantyne has it right that there is a lot of frustration to channel…

  • I completely agree that the Conservatives do not deserve credit for partially reversing their poor policies, but this partial reversal is an (unexpected) change for the better.

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