Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Framing the Child-Care Debate

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding child-care and funding of a national daycare program in Canada. What is happening is that child-care unions, advocates, and lobbyists are misleading the public by obfuscating the debate for a national child-care program akin to Medicare by framing it around two separate implementations of child-care funding solutions that were proposed by the Liberals and the Conservatives.

These special interest lobbyists are being aided and abetted by members of the Liberal party as well as the NDP because they want to pretend that their solution will mirror this national institution building initiative, when really all it is is a daycare lottery with small odds of winning. They are also helped by a sympathetic media that is badly misinformed and comes largely from the big three cities (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver) where they enjoy more state-run, expensive, and ineffectual national institutions.

When talking about an institutional, national, and universal child-care program, we should not be talking about the Liberal vs. Conservative implementation of some small relief to parents (although I like my odds better with the Conservatives). What we should be doing is confronting these people with the cost of this. The Quebec initiative that this is being compared to costs about 1.5 Billion dollars per year. It currently serves about 1/3 of the children in Quebec that need it. Quebec is slightly less than 1/4 of the population of Canada. Do the math and the cost for a fully funded child-care solution as these advocates are demanding will be somewhere around $15-20 billion, and that’s a conservative estimate as there are some problems with the Quebec program that suggest it would need even more funding to balance the books. Also, it would cost even more to accommodate shift workers and Canadians in remote locations.

Now ask these advocates if Canadians should run a deficit in that amount? Should Canadians have their taxes raised by tens of billions of dollars to fund this? I'm guessing that most of them would say 'yes' as they will benefit financially in that situation, but ask the average parent what they think. What about the average taxpayer? I'm guessing when properly framed, the debate would take on a whole new dimension.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unions want taxpayer's money, and lots of it. The NDP obviously wants to cash in on taxpayers too and a massive bureaucracy that consumes billions of dollars is perfect for Liberals with dollar signs in their eyes too.

Average Canadians would fall even further behind in their standard of living is this bureaucracy goes ahead.

12:01 PM  
Blogger kevvyd said...

I'm not sure that there isn't a middle ground here somewhere between the Quebec system and well, what we have now. I pay ~$25 per day per kid (2) for daycare here in Nova Scotia. That is essentially the same as I paid in New Brunswick three years ago when I lived there, so it might be said to be a decent average cost for the Maritimes.

I get a chunk of this back at tax time, based on the lower of my or my wife's income, so in reality I'm paying something on the order of about $15 per day.

I don't mind paying this much, or maybe even a little bit more for daycare, because I need it. I don't have to have the Quebec $7 per day or whatever it is. What I do need is more daycare seats available. We had a devil of a time getting into one with our second child when T went back to work. Even with 9 months notice at 8 daycares that were prepared to take 1 year olds, and many don't, we had to scramble for a month handing her off to this relative and that neighbour until things came together.

Instead of aiming for a Quebec style system, using rough figures how much would it cost to simply increase the number of daycare slots by, say 15 or 20% given the Liberal funding arrangement?

Since the Conservatives have said little about their plan, aside from the $1200, I have no idea if their "plan" would alleviate my main concern - the number of day care placements.

12:44 PM  
Blogger "Expert" Tom said...

The Liberal plan does not explicitly increase the number of daycare spaces, that is for the market to decide. The Liberal plan only increases the number of subsidized spots. This might have a net increase in overall spots but there is no more evidence of that than with the Conservative plan.

I think if we really want this problem solved by one level of government or another, we have decide what we are willing to give up in return, in terms of what our government is already spending money on, and also, how we can have a solution that fits everyones needs, whether they want help to stay at home (income-splitting), live in rural areas, work shifts, or simply don't want to send their children to institiional daycare.

We would need to seriously rethink our social programs and national ideology in order to refocus on priorities like children and families. Done in an unobtrusive way that gives choices to parents and taxpayers, I could get behind that. Its better than spending money on needle programs or subsidizing rich people to attend the Opera.

1:21 PM  
Blogger alsocanadian said...

I jes want beer and popcorn...

4:48 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

beer & popcorn? sounds good to me!

1:08 AM  
Blogger "Expert" Tom said...

I prefer rye and coke and cashews. Does that still count?

10:31 AM  

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