Child Care Platforms
So, the previous post in this series set out 4 premises from which one could start in designing a federal child care program. The intention is to see what the ideal system would be starting from each premise and then compare the ideal system to the child care platforms of the major parties.
But before doing that, it is worth recapping just where the party's stand on child care.
In descending order of votes received:
The Conservative platform reads as follows1:
* Provide all families a new $1,200 per year Choice in Child Care Allowance for each child under six, to be taxable in the hands of the spouse with the lower income, starting in 2006. This will be in addition to the current Canada Child Tax Benefits, National Child Benefit Supplement, and the Childcare Expenses Deduction.
* Help employers and communities create child care spaces in the workplace or through cooperative or community associations by allocating $250 million a year in tax credits to employers who cover the full cost of creating spaces. We will provide similar support to non-profit associations to create spaces. The program will be designed to ensure that small business and rural communities will be able to access it as well as larger employers and cities.
* Honour the government's existing bilateral child care commitments for one year."
The Liberal platform (here I have pulled out the part which relates to the agreements they have signed with the provinces rather than looking at the marginal additions to these programs which were promised in the 2006 platform):
"The Martin government responded to this clear need by committing $5 billion over five years for a pan-Canadian early learning and child care initiative founded on the QUAD principles - Quality, Universally inclusive, Accessible and Developmental. These principles speak to early learning and child care that is open to all children, without discrimination; that is accessible and affordable for all parents; and that is of high quality in supporting a child's development.
All ten provinces have now signed agreements with the federal government based on a nationally shared vision. The agreements identify principles and goals for early learning and child care; establish clear and measurable objectives; detail eligible areas for investment and funding levels; ensure accountability and identify how governments will report to Canadians; and commit governments to collaborating on knowledge and best practices.
Under these agreements, provinces will invest federal funds in regulated early learning and child care programs for children under six. Each province will nonetheless have the flexibility to implement programs that address their specific needs and objectives, so long as they are consistent with the QUAD principles."
The NDP child care promise:
Introduce a National Child Care Act, legislation that will firmly establish a framework for a national child care and early learning system with a permanent commitment for the federal government. It will establish standards for a network of high-quality, licensed, non-profit care for our children.
Invest $1.8 billion in the first year, and then increase this sum by $250 million a year over the following three years. At an average of $9,000 per space, this commitment means we will be providing 200,000 spaces for children, with an additional 25,000 children finding care in each of the next three years.
And this part wasn't under child care in the NDP platform, but if we are trying to make an apples-to-apples comparison between parties, it falls under child care as well:
"Increase the Child Tax Benefit by $1,000 per child above the currently scheduled increases and inflation adjustments. This improvement will be directed to the first tier of the benefit, which is not subject to clawback of provincial social assistance benefits."
The Green Party platform doesn't actually make any specific promises that I can see about child care. I did find this comment on the Green Party Review site (which includes a disclaimer that it doesn't represent the official views of the Green Party, but bloggers, like nature, abhor a vacuum):
"The Green Party believes that that instead of a massive 'mega project' we should be putting money into the hands of parents through expanded child tax credits and benefits, encourage employers to provide employee childcare, a reduced workweek, and, provide federal funding for early childhood education. We believe that these much more modest suggestions would create an environment where parents could find the childcare solutions that are appropriate to their own particular work situation and community-without driving the government back into deficit."
Anyway, I'll probably leave the Green Party out of my subsequent posts because their position is too vague/unknown. I'm also not going to include the Bloc Québécois since I am sure their position is simply for Ottawa to stay out of it, while still being willing for Quebec to accept cash from Ottawa if they must.
1 Note that in all my platform excerpts I have removed as much meaningless blah blah blah as possible, trying to leave behind only the actual promises made.