Daycare, Low Income and the Left

Jan. 20, 2006

by Helen Ward
Kids First Parent Association of Canada

Daycare has become a top election issue for all parties. The possibility that the daycare agreements will be terminated brings on the accusation that this will hurt low-income families, like mine.

But the nouveau-left’s knee-jerk support for daycare must have the corporate right laughing all the way to the World Bank—one of daycare’s powerful lobbyists working hard behind the scenes. The talk of relieving “child poverty” is spin masking a different agenda. Preferentially funding daycare over directly funding families is intended to create low incomes.

Royal Bank Vice President Charlie Coffey, explaining the connection between big money and daycare at the World Bank symposium on Early Child Development in Washington DC last September, said, “the idea is to merge business and social ways of thinking.” [1]

A family with two high-income parents may complain about daycare fees of $700-1,000/month for infant care, but that is less than half of the full cost when all operating, capital, regulation, training, evaluation, research, lobbying, etc. are factored in. The family also gets another $3,000 cash per child from the $7,000 Child Care Expense Deduction. So their child care costs are subsidized by over $13,000/year per child. Not to mention costs to the medical system of much higher rates of child illness.

The mother of one baby on welfare in BC gets less: $845.58/month—$10,152/yr. For a second child, add $35. When her youngest is three, it’s $0.[2]

Top daycare lobbyist, Dr. Martha Friendly, Coordinator of the Childcare resource and Research Unit at the University of Toronto, says she is concerned about the poor, but she is on record favouring income disparity: “How do we see Canadian society? In my kids’ public schools, there were rich kids and poor kids. Isn’t that what we want?” [3]

Children’s Low Income rates are not associated with higher daycare funding: Quebec spends $1,448 per child, 7 times as much as PEI ($216), 14 times as much as Alberta ($104), and has higher child Low Income rates than both of them: 19.6% for age 3-5 compared to 13.3 for PEI and 18.8 for Alberta. [4]

Documents from the pro-market OECD colloquium bluntly titled “Putting More Women to Work” and others spell out the real agenda: daycare is to be funded by cutting so-called “maternalist” policies which gave direct cash support for families in the form of welfare and child benefits. Taking this money away from families is part of a policy package intended to force more mothers into seeking more time in the cheap “flexible workforce” of the global McJob economy, with daycare “(directly or indirectly) subsidizing low wage employment (‘welfare in work’)”.[5] Corporations also seek to profit through Public-Private Partnership expansion into providing and servicing daycare.[1] The unpaid and low-paid care-work of women subsidizes the executives in both the profit and non-profit daycare sectors.

Another top daycare promoter, Dr. Michael Krashinsky, also at the U of T, is a promoter of work-fare, though he says cutting welfare rates is more effective.[6] Though an NDP supporter [7], he believes in coercive measures to fit people into the globalists’ agenda: “Capitalism is and always has been brutal….Whenever there has been change, people have been ground up. People like stability, so to get them to leave a dying industry or whatever, you have to burn them….[By way of analogy, farmers] had to be hammered before they’d get off the land, had to really be hurt.” [8] This inhumanitarian lionized by the daycare right and left alike chillingly envisions that “The old labour-intensive way of caring for children…is no longer viable.”[9]

The left would do us all a favour if it retreated from state-intervention in the family and got on with the harder tasks in the economic realm: remember Marx’s focus on “the ownership of the means of production”? The distribution of wealth and power? Instead of providing the troops for the World Bankers, the left should focus on state-intervention needed to counter the assault the corporate profit agenda has unleashed on children and parents.

[1] speech text at video of speech at


[3] “Ottawa Casts Net Wide for Daycare,” National Post, Dec 8 2004

[4] Sources at and
Child Low Income rates:
Alberta p113
Quebec p.55
PEI p 14

[5] “The OECD and the Reconciliation Agenda: Competing Blueprints,” R. Mahon p11.

[6] “Workfare may get votes but experts say it won’t save money,” Toronto Star, June 3 1995, p.B1

[7] “NDP Lacks Candidates in Area,” Ottawa Citizen, April 8 1995 p.C1

[8] “Brave New Workplace”, The Toronto Star, April 24 1993

[9] The Benefits & Costs of Good Child Care, Cleveland & Krashinsky p74

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