CONSERVATIVES INTENT ON KEEPING CHILDCARE PROMISE

While the Liberals have done their best to pretend they are still in charge of policy in this country, the Conservatives know better. With an upcoming budget scheduled for April or early May, Stephen Harper has made it clear that his childcare initiative will be a part of it.

A budget, of course, is a confidence item. Should the opposition parties feel the need to stop the better of two proposed daycare programs, then they will topple the minority government as well, sending the people of Canada back to the polls only a few short months after the last election. This would be political suicide for any party dumb enough to trigger a new writ this fast, and they all know it. All there is left for the losing parties to do now is to create as much noise and bluster as they can so that Canada will not forget that they exist.

While the pollsters are doing their best to sway the Conservatives away from their pledge to scrap the enormous Liberal daycare plan, there is no way that Stephen Harper and his cabinet are going to veer off course. That is simply not an option, and the opponents to this government know it. Further, Mr. Harper is absolutely making the correct choice and need not change direction at all.

I ran into an op-ed piece earlier and it was plainly in favour of the Liberal daycare agenda. It stated that the Conservative plan would help only a minority of parents. This opinion has been given a lot of press, and I for one totally disagree with the premise.

One statement read that “Some families find having one parent stay home to look after children is as affordable as having that same parent work and pay for childcare. So when childcare becomes more affordable, more women will be able to work outside the home and bring important income home.” I wholeheartedly agree with this writer, but at the same time, she misses the point. While more affordable daycare may very well enable women to work outside the home, it is not the job of her neighbours (fellow taxpayers) to pay more taxes to enable her to hand off her young to others to raise. Parents should expect to raise their own children. Period.

The loss of affordable daycare spots means small children will increasingly be placed in settings which may not be particularly safe. Institutionalization leads to standardization: had a national daycare been realized, national childcare settings would have been under pressure to adopt certain practices and regulations (of course, there are still rules that all childcare facilities must follow; a national scheme would have simply added to these policies). Now, families will be forced to put children in less-than-ideal settings. This statement is simply playing on our sense of protecting our children. A huge government program will no more ensure your children are safe than Mr. Harper’s plan. In fact, if I may, I would suggest that the Conservative plan is safer, as more people will be able to remain with their own children. As well, we have all seen numerous instances where institutionalized settings have been breeding grounds for abusive behaviour, both physically and sexually.

A recent Statistics Canada survey states the number of Canadian children in childcare has jumped 12 per cent in the last eight years. Now, 54 per cent of children under six are in care outside the home. This statement is almost a true statement. 54 percent of children under six are in care, but not all are outside the home, a very important distinction. Consider the survey numbers. While 54% is an accurate number of children in some form of childcare, one must look at how it is broken down.

The survey stated that the 54 percent was pretty much split evenly at 30% each between a non-relative caregiver outside the home, a relative outside the home, and an institutionalized daycare setting. The remaining 10% was spread out among nursery centres and nanny services inside the home. So let’s cut that one in half to start.

If 5% of children in the survey used a nanny, 16% were sent outside of the home to be with relatives and 46% of children between the ages of six months to 5 years were not even in a daycare setting, then as much as 67% of the children in this Stats Can survey would NOT benefit from the Liberal daycare scheme. Why should Canadians fund a system that only caters to 33% of the population?

As well, should a national childcare system take root, there will no doubt be more and more people who instantly ‘need’ daycare services as more and more parents will see the financial incentive of dumping their kids on somebody else’s doorstep, and I don’t apologize for the analogy. The end result would be more children who feel abandoned, more children who are not taught the basics by their own parents, and a rise in the price of Ritalin.

The Conservatives are intent to pass their childcare allowance through with the rest of the budget either this month or next, and I say it is about time that we had some rational thinkers implementing sound policy in this nation.

The Conservative plan not only helps up to 67% of all families with children six months to 5 years of age, (twice the figure of the Liberal plan for you academics), it will also contribute to a decline in the demand for daycare services as more and more parents will see the financial and parental benefits of staying at home, and that is the way that it ought to be.

Perhaps that is what has some so terrified.