The Political Economy of Childcare in Canada

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The Political Economy of Childcare in Canada Powered By Docstoc
					•   The Canadian political economy has traditionally focused on “the big questions”
    leaving out childcare, although childcare is NOT a minor issue.
•   It is a fundamental importance in understanding the main business of the state and its
    relationships to society!
•   Child Care provides a window on state-society relations at the point where concerns
    about public and private, state and market, and family responsibility and employment
    all intersect.
•   Many states have been engaged in downsizing and offloading for responsibilities for
    provision of care
•   Therefore they look to their families and communities to provide the care
•   This is difficult since the health services are reduced and investments in home care
    and childcare are not made
•   Questions that arise: who will provide care, who will pay for it and how it will be
•   Premise of chapter: Childcare provides an important opportunity to examine big
    questions such as the ongoing transformation of labour markets, families,
    communities, and the Canadian state. An analysis of debates surrounding childcare
    provision also allows us to think about prospects for progressive social transformation.
•Over the past four decades, the transformation of labor markets and families has eroded
traditional patterns of family form that dominated the 20th century, that is a male
breadwinner and housewife mother.
•In the 1960s, feminists have defined the availability of affordable and high-quality childcare
as an indispensable element of any program for achieving gender equality
•Since the 1960s, it has been evident that that mothers of young children were the fastest-
growing segment of most labour forces
•paternity and maternity leaves
•In recent years, preschool has been defined as the early and critical contribution to meeting
the life-long learning requirements associated with an emergent “knowledge-based
•ECE to reduce future costs
•In Canada, the issues that arise are the particular public policy choices as well as
constraining the range of strategic options of social forces that aim to transform social
•Canada is classified as a liberal welfare regime
•There are three basic welfare regimes: Liberal, Social democratic, and
•There are ten provincial variants
•Childcare branched out in a different direction from health care.
•Quality service for childcare was also effected by who paid and how the services
was delivered which varied by class and place.
•Middle and upper-income families look to the market, and public support came only
through the tax the system.
•Childcare Expenses Deduction (1972) permitted two-parent and lone-parent
families with employed parents to deduct a portion of childcare expenses from their
taxes. Parents could choose any type of care or any provider, but their payment had
to be receipted.
•In the mid 1960’s -1996 Ottawa made funds available through Canada Assistance
Plan (CAS) to subsidies childcare to those in need or in danger of becoming in
•1950’s first survey of working women was conducted by the Director of the
Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labour 1960’s with the help of CAP
(Canada Assistance Plan), there was recognition for affordable and
accessible childcare
•example: Federation des femmes du Quebec (FFQ)
•The Royal Commission opened the way to a broader public understanding
across Canada of universally accessible childcare as indispensable to
achieving women’s equality of opportunity
•RESULT: It created some changes: widening the scope of those “in need.”
They were not powerful enough to overcome the liberal biases deeply
embedded in the social policy establishment. Public subsidies were for
lower-income families. Tax subsidies and Market choices were offered to the
rest, leaving families with the “choice” of how to meet the challenge of
balancing work and family responsibilities.
The liberal government abandoned its attempt at a national
childcare strategy.
“Canada Child Tax Benefit” and low income supplement
With the federal contribution of the “National Child Benefit”
(NCB), most provincial governments have reduced the income
portion of what they pay in social assistance
The money saved can then be reinvested by the provinces in
social services for children or paid as additional income
However, the NCB does target low income families.
Investing in the development of young children is anticipated to
have positive impacts on not only on children but society as
Early Childhood Development, provided a federal contribution of
$2.2 billion over 5 years and set out priorities for investment in four
Childcare may be funded under the Early Childhood Development
initiative, and is given a low profile
Campaign 2000 represents over seventy national, provincial and
community organizations
The National Children’s Alliance (NCA) consists of 30 national
Advantages over coalitions over associations
Under the federal-provincial agreement on early childhood
•Social assistance reform is fostering market behaviour among low-income families,
while an emerging focus on early childhood development is leading, in some
provinces, to greater concern about supports for all children
•In Ontario, until 1996, lone mothers with a child under 16 and living on social
assistance had no obligation to seek employment. In other provinces this age varied,
but they were treated as “unavailable” for employment.
•The Harris Government’s Ontario Work program imposed the obligation to participate
on all lone parents receiving social assistance when their youngest child reached
school age.
•Manitoba & British Colombia specified school age as the point at which lone parents
must begin seeking employment.
•In Newfoundland & Labrador, Quebec and Saskatchewan the cutoff is age two and
•Nova Scotia and Alberta lone parents with children over 6 months are considered
available for work.
                          •The National Children’s Agenda, wanted to formally enhance early
                          childhood education (ECE). Several provinces therefore have
                          begun to institute programs that not only maintain the emphasis
                          on licensed, nonprofit childcare but also promote its advantage for
                          all children

                                                                     2. Newfoundland &
                                                                Saskatchewan offer lowest share
                                                                 of regulated care spaces, therefore
                                                                 parents are forced primarily to the
                                                                family and informal sector (which is
                                                                    care provided in the homes of
                                                                 neighbours and friends). Therefore
                                                                       about 50% of daycare in
                                                                    Saskatchewan is provided by
assisted market                                                           family daycare.
  model, that a
   parent fees
  account for a                        1                                                    3.Quebec
 lower share of
                                                                                         publicly funded
the cost and the                             2                                             daycare for
rate of coverage                                                3                         everyone, no
  is somewhat                                                                             matter what a
higher. (so they get                                                                        parent’s
paid less, but more pay
      for daycare)                                                                        employment
                                                                                            status is
In Canada, childcare policy has been constructed within what are
essentially liberal welfare regimes. Families purchase the childcare
services they need in the market, which is compromised of both for
profit and non-profit.
The state’s role has been confined either to helping low income
families who cannot afford to pay market prices to obtain childcare
or to providing tax breaks for families purchasing care.
This has resulted in an inadequate supply of quality, regulated
childcare and high market prices that even middle-income two-
earner families often cannot afford. In reality Canada does not
have one childcare regime, there are several.
The federal government maintains an important funding
responsibility through its grants to provinces and tax credits to
Debate: Do you think Childcare Workers
should be paid the same as Teachers?

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