Tories Flip Flop on Child Care
Mar 26, 2007
The recently tabled Federal Budget confirmed what many had known for a long time – that the Harper Government had been way off base on its plan to create child care spaces by providing tax incentives and grants to businesses.
Shortly after coming into office, the Conservatives announced that they would not honour the previous Martin Government’s child care commitment of $5 billion to the provinces over a five-year period. Almost $3.5 billion of that had yet to be transferred when Harper came to power. The current government has been under pressure to produce details of its plan for creating child care spaces since it announced that it would not honour the previous government’s commitment beyond March 31 of this year.
Instead, the Harper Tories initiated the Universal Child Care Credit – a program that saw payments of $100 per month to families with children under the age of six. The spaces required were to be created by providing a host of incentives to businesses and organizations that created child care spaces.
However, the Budget confirmed a major flip-flop in policy. Now the government will be transferring $250 million in the coming fiscal year to the provinces to create these spaces. This will see about $9 million coming to Manitoba, which is a fraction of the money it would have received under the previous government’s commitment. It appears that the Government has finally acknowledged not only that corporations cannot deliver these spaces, but that the child care community was right all along. Why didn’t they listen to the experts in the first place? These are the people who deal with these issues on a daily basis.
The Budget revealed that the government will continue with the Universal Child Care Credit, which many families are just realizing is a taxable benefit and of negligible benefit to them at all.
Code Blue - a campaign which consists of national, provincial and territorial child care organizations, including labour and other groups dedicated to building a national child care system - has argued all along that the Conservatives’ child care policy was ill-conceived and could not work as designed. They had pointed out previously that programs that rely on businesses to create spaces have failed miserably and that the Conservative government in Ottawa should have known this.
It’s easy to say “I told you so,” but there was plenty of evidence (as with the Harris Government’s experiment in Ontario) that incentives for business would not result in new child care spaces. Ottawa should have listened to those who know best.
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