What’s in the budget?
No change to the transfer payments for provinces and territories and only a modest increase to the child care benefit payments for single parent families.
What does it mean?
The Conservative government has done nothing toward implementing a national child care plan providing high-quality, affordable and inclusive child care services. The level of transfer payments was significantly reduced in 2006 to $250M from $650M which was scheduled to increase to $1.2B in 2007.
Canadian children and parents cannot hope to find the child care they need with the lack of funds specifically directed to an accountable child care program. Canada ranks last out of 25 countries on access to child care. Three quarters of women in Canada want child care yet there are spaces for fewer than 20 percent of the women who need it. This budget does nothing to change these appalling statistics. Indeed it makes it worse.
The minimal increase to assist single parents does nothing to increase the service or choice for child care to single parents.
What would be better choices?
The better choice would be to implement a national plan providing high-quality, affordable, public and non-profit, accessible and inclusive child care program for parents and their children. Further, the plan should include measurable targets and timelines. This can be achieved by significantly increasing federal transfers to participating provinces and territories starting with an additional $2.2B now and increasing the amount to $5B by 2013.
The better choice is to support families in a way that helps them out of poverty, supports parents to learn and upgrade their skills and provides all children with the basis to engage in lifelong learning.