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An example of why we need a national daycare program

A column from a mom lays it out starkly as any why this is needed. Here is an excerpt from an article titled Daycare in Toronto is expensive and hard to find:

…Daycare in Toronto is extremely difficult to find, not to mention unaffordable. The “waiting lists” are hardly transparent. To find a spot requires perseverance and continual lobbying.  My story highlights some of the problems with this system. I can only imagine the difficulty in finding a subsidized spot, which are even fewer and farther between.

The $100 Universal Child Care Benefit we get from the federal government each month covers just less than one day at some city-run daycares. The maximum tax deduction you can make for child care is $7,000 per child. At the rates being charged in Toronto, families pay $10,000 to $18,000 a year for each preschool-aged child in the family. There are so many ways this system can be improved but it requires focus, time and resources. When will this issue get the attention it deserves?

The answer to that last question – at least for me – is when the Conservative government is defeated. That’s why I was pleased to see Ignatieff commit to re-introducing a national daycare program. I am hopeful when its details are released that it will be even more comprehensive and “national” then the program Prime Minister Paul Martin signed with the provinces, before Harper and the Conservatives cancelled it, in an attempt to prevent it being entrenched as Medicare is. They won’t dare touch universal Medicare, but they were able to kill this attempt at a national daycare program before it got fully established. I am pleased to see that we will attempt to re-establish a daycare program with (hopefully) national standards and (hopefully) universal access for all who need it, if Ignatieff and the Liberals get elected.

(H/T to Brandie Weikle, parentcentral.ca and healthzone.ca editor for the Toronto Star)

UPDATE: If I’m not mistaken, that 100$ benefit the government sends out also gets clawed back, so it ends up being considerably less then 100$ a month, and even more useless for covering childcare costs.

8 comments to An example of why we need a national daycare program

  • Alison S

    I think we need good day care, but I think this is something that companies should be compelled to offer onsite as a benefit that parents can choose as part of their benefits package. For small businesses, a different model would be needed. I would suggest cooperatives. The government could give a subsidy to help businesses get set up and a tax credit for each child. The advantage to having the daycare nearby the parents’ working environment should be obvious; less travel time, availability to deal with problems, that might arise, parental involvement at lunch hour etc. For businesses, it would result in less stress for their employees, less time off and as they and their employees are the main beneficiaries of the work force, it is only fair if they bear a goodly share of the burden.

    The situation in Quebec is that parents only pay a very small amount(I believe it is $7/day) and the government picks up the rest. All daycare centres are supposed to be regulated and it is very hard for parents to find a space. It is not true that it is only available to middle class parents. Unfortunately, there are some mothers who don’t work outside the home and use it as a babysitting service. I know of a number of mothers who misuse the system that way.

  • LNeumann

    This opinion piece is bang on.

    Yes – you can find in-home daycare, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier or better.

    We interviewed 7 in-home providers before selecting one for our first child. The one we selected works for an agency that trains and monitors the home daycares, and ensures they adhere to provider-child ratios. We were very happy with the care she received – but I believe our provider was exceptional.

    To “Frunger” – these ratios are important – especially with the younger kids. It’s scary enough to entrust a stranger with your young child (who can’t talk and tell how it’s going!). Even scarier if you’re in a situation where you have to go to an unregulated person in their home with no monitoring or support!

    And to all those who regularly show up and comment (everywhere these types of stories appear) that the best care is by parents and you shouldn’t have kids unless you can stay at home – what BS. Many parents would love to do this but can’t due to needing two incomes (and no, it’s not just so they can jet off to sunny vacations, or buy bigger houses or cars!). And what about single-parent families? Or are you willing to compensate single-parents for lost wages by staying at home?

    We need more regulated spaces so that are kids are not only safe and healthy, but stimulated and well-cared for. And, so that parents have choices and aren’t forced to use sub-standard care.

  • Frunger

    Another point. Since Que already has a ‘universal’ childcare program, we’d probably still have to send them a pile of cash despite it not being used for daycare.

    I’d be tough to give that sweetheart deal to them without giving it to the rest of the provinces. Now the ‘childcare’ program will just funnel more money into provincial general revenues and they’ll ‘do their best’ to increase spaces just like most are saying they’ll ‘do their best’ about emmisions reduction.

  • Frunger

    This isn’t an uncommon story, but finding space is really only an issue if you are dead set on the kid being in a licensed daycare, and not a neighbourhood day home. The day home thing is more word of mouth, so talking to other recent parents is your best bet.

    Many are retired teachers/RN’s that could easily be certified, but don’t stick strictly to the staff/child ratio and can’t be bothered with the bureaucratic hassles. They can also be more flexible around their hours.

    You’ll probably get better care from the day homes too, because they’re watching the kids of friends and family. I’m stereotyping union workers, I realize that.

    If the Que model is anything like what a federal program would look like, it will be used mainly by the middle-upper classes that work 9-5 office jobs who could afford to pay for it themselves.

    The work hours of the working class don’t mesh very easily with a government program.

  • DavidA

    Provincial, Provincial, Provincial.

    Dude, I live in Victoria. I don’t want to pay for someones daycare in Toronto. Get McGuinty to cover that crap.

    • Jon Pertwee

      @DavidA, Dude, I live in Vancouver and I dont want Campbell having any more things to screw up than he already has.

    • Jim Vincent

      @DavidA, Daycare is crap? If it was a federal program then every province would have it.

      Provincial, provincial, provincial – an apt description of your own thinking.

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