Media release February 9, 2005: “Message to Fed-Prov Territorial Meeting: Legal Challenge Sought to Daycare Discrimination”

Joint Media Release February 9th, 2005

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

From: Kids First Parent Association of Canada and Citizens in Favour of Equal Government Childcare Subsidies For all Children / Les Citonyen(ne)s en Faveur de L’equite Fiscale des Subventions Pour Soins de Garde Pour Tous les Enfants

Representatives from Kids First Parent Association of Canada will be outside the Federal Provincial Territorial Meeting at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver at 9 am this Friday to oppose the proposed National Child Care Programme.

They want to give Ken Dryden, Federal Minister of Social Development, and the other participants a button that reads, “Every mother is a working mother” and let them know they have met with legal council to pursue a challenge to legislation which they say could discriminate against our children.

In 2003, the Quebec Liberal government came to the realisation that a more balanced and comprehensive childcare policy was necessary. Effective January 1, 2005, Minister Béchard replaced meagre Family Allowances with the new Child Assistance benefit. This is made up of the old Family Allowance plus two previously non-refundable tax credits: one for Dependant children and the other a Family Tax Reduction. “It appears that the provincial government’s intention is to put more money into the hands of all families, regardless of their childcare choices,” says Yvonne Coupal, Coordinator of Citizens in Favour of Equal Government Childcare Subsidies for All Children. “Our organization believes it is still a far cry from equal treatment, but it does show that the Quebec Government is obviously concerned and have taken into consideration the potential for legal action. The thought of paying out billions of dollars to Quebec parents in retroactive compensation, should a class action suit be brought before the courts, may very well have been a contributing factor. The government’s new Child Assistance benefit confirms that most of the children in the province were being discriminated against under the exclusive government daycare program,” says Coupal.

The Quebec government financed its $5 per day (now $7) daycare program by transferring millions of dollars from families to directly pay authorized daycare centers and subsequently created a huge bureaucracy, says Coupal.

Helen Ward, President of Kids First, explains that “The majority of children are not in daycare. Parental child care is the number one choice even while parents ‘work or study’. We arrange our schedules and finances, and forego or reduce income from jobs to put the kids first. Exclusively funding daycare means money intended to help care for children is not getting to all families. Canadians believe that child care dollars should go directly the family because they are the primary caregivers. Parents should be the ones to decide upon their child’s care, without government bias. And for the vast majority of us, that’s parental care,” affirms Helen Ward.

Child Care activist Beverly Smith of Calgary says the government has systematically excluded everyone but daycare proponents from consultations, so that legal action may be the only way to get the government to recognize and support all children equally, not solely those who use daycare.

“There is no evidence to support the government’s claim that daycares and preschools deserve preferential treatment because they do a better job than families at children’s care and development,” says Smith.


CONTACT: Helen Ward (BC), President, Kids First Parent Association of Canada, www.kidsfirstcanada.org, 604-291-0088

Yvonne Coupal (QUE), Coordinator, Citizens in Favour of Equal Government Childcare Subsidies for All Children, Les Citoyen(ne)s En Faveur de l’Équité Fiscale des Subventions pour Soins de Garde pour Tous les Enfants, 450-966-6124

Beverly Smith (ALB) Editor Caregivers’ Newsletter, 403-283-2400