On October 14th, Canadians go to the polls to elect a new federal government. For parents with small children, child care is a key issue in the election. Here’s a quick rundown of what the 4 major national parties (Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green) are promising in terms of Child Care.
When it comes to child care, the Conservatives seem to be focusing on what they have done in this area in the past 2 years, specifically the introduction of the Universal Child Care Benefit last year (which not only misses the point of the child care issue for many working parents, but also managed to decrease BC’s annual transfer payment by $150 million dollars and increase daycare fees by $2 per day).
The Conservatives are also touting their $250 million per year increase in transfer payments to the provinces which, they say, is to assist in the creation of new daycare spaces. Yet the transfer was introduced with no strings attached, so in essence the provinces could take the cash and use it for many other projects other than child care.
One new promise the Conservatives are making is to extend maternity and parental benefits to self-employed Canadians. Currently only people who pay into EI are eligible for parental or maternity benefits. The Conservatives promise to do away with this.
The Liberal Party has been promising child care spaces since the days of the Red Book, and they have consistently failed to deliver what is needed. To their credit, it is the Liberal Party we have to thank for giving us a full year (pdf) of maternity and parental leave.
This time around, the Liberals are promising to:
- increasing child care funding over a four-year period to $1.25 billion annually. This money is to be used by the provinces to create new and improved quality spaces and increase accessibility for families.
- Keep the $100-a-month Universal Child Care Benefit.
- Introduce a new refundable child tax credit worth $350 to families for every child under 18.
- Provide up to $1,225 per year to Canada’s poorest families through a new Guaranteed Family Supplement.
The NDP’s are promising to spend $1.45 billion dollars on their 3 point child care plan in the first year and steadily build on that.
Like the Liberal Party, the NDP are promising to keep the $1,200 per year Child Care Benefit, but instead of delivering $100 monthly cheques that are taxed, they plan to role it in to an expanded Child Tax Benefit.
As for child care spaces, the NDP is promising that provinces get the multi-year funding in the 2006 budget so they can plan effectively and create 150,000 child care spaces, with the longer term goal of a space for every child needing one.
Point 3 in the 3 point plan is the creation of a national child care program outlined in the NDP’s Early Learning & Child Care Act (Bill C-303), which, (for local readers) was authored by Victoria NDP MP Denise Savoie.
Like the NDP, the Greens say they are committed to a high-quality federally-funded universal child care program in Canada. Specifics of the Green plan are:
- Restore and revamp the 2005 agreement reached between the federal government, provinces and territories to achieve a universal child care programme in Canada.
- Specifically ensure that Canada’s universal child care programme provides workplace child care spaces wherever possible.
- Tax shift to make advertising directed at children ineligible for corporate tax write-offs.
- Accelerate the creation of workplace child care spaces through a direct tax credit to employers (or groups of employers in small businesses) of $1500 tax credit/child per year.
- Value the decisions of parents who choose to stay home with children.
- Promote and facilitate access to Roots of Empathy Programme to every Canadian child at some point in their elementary school years.