In the September Speech from the Throne, the Trudeau government included a proposal for a government funded national daycare program.
The government did not place a price tag on the program. However, in 1999, a leaked federal discussion paper from the Department of Health concluded that such a universal daycare program would cost, at that time, $12 to $15 billion annually. Inflation would raise this to $18 to $22 billion a year in 2020. This plan would add to the present $928 billion federal debt.
Guess who is dancing with joy over this announcement? It’s not whom you think. It’s not the parents, but daycare workers, themselves, who are rejoicing because the program will most directly benefit them. They will obtain financial security on the government payroll with full benefits. Since 1982, lobbyists for a universal daycare program have worked for such a program, aided by millions of taxpayers’ dollars from the federal Status of Women agency. These lobbyists never considered any alternative options for daycare but that of a licensed government funded daycare program.
Other left-wing segments of society, such as unions, are also lobbying to limit choice to the one option of a national daycare program. Unions have experienced a decline in membership over the last few years, with only 30% of female workers now unionized. A nationally operated and tax funded daycare program would provide the unions with an entirely new-class of public-sector jobs, namely the thousands of daycare workers who would fall under their jurisdiction. If this occurs, it will lead to increased wages for the unionized daycare workers as occurred in Quebec, which has a provincially funded licensed daycare program. Child care wages there have increased 40% due to union-led pressure carried out by sit-ins, walk-outs and threat of general strikes, which paralyzes the childcare system. This happened as recently as September 2020 when daycare workers undertook rotating strikes, which left thousands of families stranded.
The Trudeau government also stands to benefit from this national program in that it will obtain increased tax dollars because of women’s increased employment due to the offer of government funded child care spaces. This means more money for Trudeau to throw around to his friends and colleagues, and it also centralizes more power in the Prime Minister’s office since it will be determining national standards for child care.
The value of women to Trudeau, apparently, is the amount of money they can contribute to the gross domestic product. Expensive tax funded daycare, however, should not be provided for the purpose of improving the economy, but rather should be to benefit children.
Feminist lobbyists are nonetheless arguing that the pandemic has created a “need” for a national daycare plan on the basis that women have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. They argue that the child care system is critical for the recovery and rebuilding of Canada by returning women to the workforce. The facts, however, do not support their argument. Women fared only slightly worse than men during the closing of the economy. Between February and August, 2020, 535,000 men and 562,000 women lost their jobs because of the lockdown. Also, many women are choosing not to return to work in order to stay home while their children attend school online.
All the universal child care programs in the world are not going to fix the real problem, which is concern about the coronavirus lockdowns, which have led to the collapse of our economy. If there are no jobs to return to, then obviously daycare is not required. There should be an economic recovery before we embark on an expensive child care program.
Such an option could be available to parents if they want it, but there is no reason why the government could not help financially support other alternatives. These alternatives could include raising the child at home themselves, or by other family members; by neighbourhood private daycare, or community-based care; or in a religious or ethnic-based child care centre, such as an aboriginal center, where children will learn their culture and heritage.
Child care is a decision of parents since it is the parents who understand what is best for their child. Empirical studies on parents’ views on child care have been carried out for nearly three decades in Canada and indicate that they have a strong preference for a home and family approach to child care. This preference is being ignored.
If the federal government really respected parents and their choices it would provide the funds directly to the family, for example, by increasing child care benefits or by child tax credits so that parents can decide the appropriate choice for their family.
A sound child care policy should follow the findings of reliable research on children’s wellbeing, which is to provide children with secure attachments with adult caregivers. Studies carried out on Quebec’s highly touted universal daycare program have found worse daycare outcomes for children, including decreased measures of social and motor skills and increased illness and aggression.
Instead of imposing its own left-wing, progressive bias on Canadians, the federal government should re-think its daycare policy so as to accommodate the actual needs of children and parents.