NDP Plans for a Childcare Program
Canada cannot afford not to have universal public regulated childcare
By Michelle Douglas
NDP leader Tom Mulcair was in Scarborough on March 27 visiting the office of Dan Harris, Member of Parliament for Scarborough Southwest, to discuss the party’s childcare plan. With a group of over 25 volunteers, the pair canvassed the constituency to share their message of hope for change within our government.
The party’s new childcare plan is based on Québec’s childcare policy. Québec’s childcare program offers parents child care for $7.50 per day ($152 per month). According to a CBC article by Susan Noakes (November 10, 2014), this is the lowest in the country; the highest is in Toronto at $1,676 per month.
The NDP’s new policy will not only make it possible for more women to be part of the labour force, but it will also boost the economy. According to a study by TD bank economists Dina Ignjatovic and Craig Alexander (November 27, 2012), for every dollar invested in early childhood education, returns fell between $1.49 and $2.78.
According to James Fitz-Morris of CBC News (October 30, 2014), the Harper Government’s childcare plan is based on income splitting and increased universal childcare tax returns. Yet, this will not only lead to more inequality, as it only benefits high-income families (whose tax bracket allows higher exemptions), but it will also continue to cost taxpayers $2.5 billion a year.
In Québec, since the childcare program began, not only has there been a 22 per cent increase in the number of working mothers, but of particular note is that the number of single parents on welfare has decreased by half, according to Erin Anderssen and Kim Mackrael for the Globe and Mail (October 18, 2013).
The correlation here may seem presumptuous to some, but Québec economists, such as Dr. Pierre Fortin, professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, attribute this with childcare incentives (October 23, 2013). According to Fortin’s research, in 2008 alone, the programs available in Québec accounted for nearly 70,000 mothers who became newly employed. It brings to mind that famous saying from Phil Alden Robinson’s, Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”
“For years we were told that we have no choice, but we’re here to show that we do,” said Mr. Mulcair.
He explained that this is not only an issue about childcare—it is an economic issue. This is what we have to remember. People may assume that this is only about politics, yet at the end of the day, we cannot overlook the fact that issues like these affect families all over the country.
Since we live in a time where a single income can no longer support a family, why would we not want to make it significantly easier for both parents to be employed? In the cases of single parents, lack of employment could mean no food on the table. Even those who do not have children will feel the effects of a lack of childcare, since a smaller labour force produces a smaller economy.