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A Conservative majority government would trash the emerging national child care program. But by voting NDP, we can keep the Conservatives from destroying it outright by forcing them into a minority government position.

A strong NDP presence in the House of Commons will keep the dream of a national, public, not-for-profit child care program alive. We’ll need it, because Stephen Harper has long opposed national social programs that benefit women and poorer Canadians.

The Conservatives have promised to cancel existing and pending federal/provincial child care agreements. They would also cancel earmarked funding and instead introduce tax cuts for parents that, if you were lucky, would amount to $25 a week.

They are even offering money to employers to create child care spaces, the same kind of plan Ontario’s Mike Harris government tried. It didn’t work, notes the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC). Not a single new child care space was created. CUPE joined with CCAAC and other groups to strongly condemn the Conservatives’ positions on child care.

Like the Liberals, the Conservatives would not restrict federal funding to not-for-profit, community-based child care, allowing for expansion in the commercial and corporate sector. On this point, the Conservatives and Liberals are the same: the door is propped open for big box operators.

The Liberals have had over 13 years to act on child care. They have failed. Even as late as the 2004 election, they promised to “enshrine in legislation” the four principles of quality, universality, accessibility and developmental programming. They didn’t do it.

The NDP represents the best choice for working people on child care. They have pledged legislation that includes quality and accessibility principles and makes funding to provinces conditional on their meeting standards.

New Demcrats that’say child care should be a public program. They would ensure non-profit delivery is accountable to parents and communities, restricting growth in the commercial sector and shutting the door on corporate child care. They have also pledged to expand the number of child care spaces so that in 10 years every child in Canada has access to quality programs.

Canada is one of the last modern, developed democracies not to have a national child care plan. If Stephen Harper becomes prime minister, the dream will be delayed.

We can keep it alive by voting for a strong NDP presence in Parliament.