Women's and families' issues in Canadian politics: Part I

Posted by Saraline , Friday, September 19, 2008 12:19 PM

We have a federal election in Canada coming soon, so I'm going to examine what the different parties are saying about women and families. There are other important issues to consider when deciding who to vote for, but due to the nature of this blog these are the issues that I will be discussing.

Conservative Party of Canada

I'll start with the Conservative Party of Canada, since I've been seeing ads on TV about how much Stephen Harper cares about families.

Under the heading "key issues" on their website, we have child care. Child care in Canada wasn't in good shape before the Conservatives came into power, and there hasn't been very much improvement. On their website we learn that since coming into power the Conservatives have:

Delivered choice and support to parents through the Universal Child Care Benefit: $1,200 per year in direct support for every child under six – over $3.7 billion in 2006 and 2007 to help parents with the cost of child care

Invested $250 million per year to assist the provinces and territories in creating new child care spaces

Sounds good so far. Money for people with children and money to create new child care spaces. Money keeps people happy. How helpful is $1,200 for a family who has a child in daycare?

In Quebec, we have $7 a day daycare centres. If parents work full-time, they probably work five days a week. That's $35 a week. With 52 weeks in a year, that costs $1,820, so the tax benefit covers all but $620 of child care costs. That's pretty good, if you live in Quebec and can get $7 a day daycare.

It's difficult to get a spot in $7 a day daycare and not every province has that option available. Looking at private daycares, many of them seem to go for $30 a day. That's $210 a week and $10, 920 a year. After the $1, 200 tax credit, day care would still cost $9,720 a year. And if you have two kids under the age of six? That's $21, 840 a year, minus two tax credits at $2, 400, leaving the family with $19, 440 a year in child care costs. For a low-income, single parent, that pretty much covers their annual earnings.

What about the $250 million per year to create child care spaces? I think it's great that the Conservatives want to create new child care spaces, but what about the money that will be needed to maintain them after they've been created?

According to www.universalchildcare.ca,

Canada's Universal Child Care Plan addresses these needs, and provides universal support for all parents of young children. The Government of Canada understands that parents want choice and real options for child care.

Canada's Universal Child Care Plan contains two components:
  1. The Universal Child Care Benefit - to provide direct financial assistance to parents.

  2. Funding to provinces and territories as well as a new investment tax credit for child care spaces – which businesses can use to create new child care spaces each year.
The investment tax credit for businesses that create new child care spaces is great for parents who work for businesses that provide good benefits for their employees. Businesses that pay low wages and offer sub-standard or no benefits to their employees aren't likely to offer child care for them, even with the tax credit. People who work for fast food restaurants, large chain stores, etc. don't make very much money, don't have any benefits, don't have unions, and have trouble affording child care. The businesses they work for don't care about them and aren't going to spend the money to help them; the businesses would still be paying for the new child care spaces out of pocket even with the tax credit.

As for women's issues, apparently the Conservatives have nothing to say about that. It's not mentioned under "key issues" on their website. They caused a big stir when they made cuts to Status of Women Canada in 2006 and removed the word "equality" from their mandate. Obviously women's issues aren't important to the Conservatives.

2 Response to "Women's and families' issues in Canadian politics: Part I"

Kate Says:

Don't forget too that just before the last election the Liberals completed negotiations with all provinces to create more child care spaces across the country. The Conservatives cancelled that plan and put the money towards the Universal Child Care benefit.

Beijing York Says:

Excellent post saraline. Try as they might (which is not very hard in my view), the Conservatives are not very good for women.