A new poll on “child care” is out. “Poll Shows Canadians Rejecting Government Child Care Allowance” we are told. Maybe they’ll be sending back the cheques. The usual combination of undefined terms, leading questions, omissions and misinformation result in a claim of support for last year’s daycare funding deals. Who sponsored the poll? The tax-funded daycare lobby: the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. Who paid for the poll? You did. The CCAAC was established by the federal government in 1983 and has been heavily funded by them—that is by taxpayers—ever since. Is this another “research” rip off?
Remember the Clarity Act? Maybe not—but clarity in language is what we need when it comes to “child care”. This key term is never defined in the poll. This is a standard obfuscation tactic of the lobby. The term implies daycare centres “such as the YWCA”, and yet it recognizes “stay at home parent” as a possible answer towards the end.
Daycare lobbyists never use the term “daycare”: pollsters did not mention it even once in 20 questions. Depending on the situation, “child care” can mean pretty much anything: prenatal classes, Sunday school, parental care, nannies, or going to the library.
But when it comes to funding, the meaning tightens up and the definition discriminates. Only government inspected daycares and (sometimes) preschools are included, with users of daycare centres from birth on being the most heavily supported. Hundreds of millions of “child care” dollars also go to bureaucrats, lobbyists and pollsters.
Dumbed Down: Do the Math
The poll takes advantage of the arithmetically challenged. The polls states the goal of the plan was “providing affordable child care to all parents who need it”. Well, ALL parents need “child care” because we are legally obligated to care for ALL our children. There are over 2 million 0-5 year-olds. But the Liberal’s daycare election promise allotted less than $500/year for each child ($5 billion for 5 years for over 2 million children 0-5). This information is omitted.
The poll goes on to incorrectly claim that the plan was to create 100,000 new “spaces”. But the deals did not contain guarantees of ANY “spaces.” Funds could be spent on training, wages, or new offices for bureaucrats.
Funding for daycare REQUIRES that the vast majority get $0 worth of child care funding so that a small minority get huge financial support, regardless of their income.
Daycare lobbyists admit daycare is costly but do not actually say just how expensive it is. Nannies are cheaper. Quebec currently pays $15,700/year to centres for each full-time infant “space,” and that is with dangerously poor ratios of one staff person for eight one year olds. Daycare economists Cleveland and Krashinsky estimate up to $20,700 just for operating costs. Adding costs of regulation, inspection, capital, training, research, lobbying, etc., the cost could be up to well over $20,000/year per child.
The $1,200 (minus taxes) allowance does not cover daycare fees and goes nowhere near replacing job income forgone by many parents who provide “child care” for their own children. But something is more than nothing, isn’t it?
No poll questions on that.
The poll contains more factual errors that would bias results. The poll states, “single parents and two-earner families would keep considerably less [of the $1,200 allowance] than one-earner families.”
This is inaccurate: the amount depends on the tax-rate of the lower income parent, not on having a job or on marital status. Single parents on welfare and many others have incomes below taxable levels. Such families will receive the full $1,200. Many two-income families will get the whole amount as often one parent has employment income that is below taxable levels.
Shadow Boxing with Paper Tigers
The CCAAC continues to engage in mock class warfare by perpetuating the fiction that wives/mothers who do not do paid work all have high-income sugar-daddy husbands. We are supposed to be enraged that the rich get more than the poor. True—some will, and this inequity should be addressed. But even these families would have more money if both parents had paid full-time jobs. And the fact is that single income two-parent families have incomes about $20,000 less on average than 2 income families.
And if the rich should get less than the poor, why does the daycare lobby oppose that principle when it comes to daycare?
No poll questions about that.
Because the big nasty irony is the fact that funding daycare rather than funding families is a form of welfare for higher income folks. Daycare is used more by higher income families. Nearly 3 times as many families with incomes over $80,000 use daycare than families under $40,000 according to economist Frances Woolley. The 2005 study by economists Milligan, Gruber and Baker finding negative outcomes for Quebec daycare found similar inequity.
A wealthy family using full-time daycare for one infant and paying the full fee receives well over $13,000 year in subsidized care and tax breaks (including tax break due to the $7,000 Child Care Expense Deduction). This is because full fees do not cover full costs. Fees may be $700-1,100/month. But fees cover less than 50 per cent of operating costs and far less than the full costs of over $20,000/year discussed above. The single parent of one infant on welfare receives about $13,040 (BC) from the combination of the Child Tax Benefit and social assistance. Welfare pays only an additional $35/month for each other child. But subsidies for daycare are the same for each “space.”
The well-off daycare user gets more state support that the “welfare queen.”
There were no poll questions explaining this and asking how we feel about it.
Ripped off: What Happened to all that Money?
The historical fact is that the discriminatory policies pushed by the CCAAC have resulted in de-funding families of billions of dollars. Public funds have been transferred to daycare supports through massive cuts to family income supports—including welfare, tax deductions, family allowance, tax-free items (children’s clothes), birth bonuses (up to $8,000 in Que), etc.—over the last 20 years.
Funding daycare directly (plus bureaucracy, pollsters, etc.) was set up to CAUSE much of the low income and “child poverty” they claim daycare will fix.
IF—a big if—the CCAAC is genuinely concerned about lower income families, perhaps they could promote policy that would allow low income parents to control the cash supposedly intended to raise their incomes. Would they prefer to have the cash go to a subsidized daycare space and the related bureaucrats and academics?
Or is the daycare lobby crassly exploiting low-income families as a tactical weapon to garner public sympathy for another agenda? They pretend to represent the interests of lower-income families but have never so much as asked permission do so. Feminists call this a form of theft or “appropriation of voice.” What’s next—denying the vote?
Maybe we need a poll.
Helen Ward is President if Kids First Parent Association of Canada and a low-income single parent
Environics National Omnibus—May 2006 FINAL Omnibus Questions for the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada—questionnaire: http://www.childcareadvocacy.ca/action/codeBlue/pdf/Public_Opinion_on_Child_Care_Policy.pdf (mislayed link)
$15,700/yr to non-profit centres for a full time infant space: Merrigan & Lefebvre: Low Fee Regulated Childcare Policy CIRPEE http://18.104.22.168/CIRPEE/cahierscirpee/2005/files/CIRPEE05-08.pdf (broken link), p22 footnote.
$20,700/child/yr estimate of centre care costs with higher wages ($35,000/yr for teacher) and a 1:3 staff:child ratio source “Financing Early Learning and Child Care in Canada” 2004
http://www.ccsd.ca/pubs/2004/cc/cleveland-krashinsky.pdf (broken link), p6.
1:8 staff child ratio: ECEC 2004 http://www.childcarecanada.org/ECEC2004/tables_big/TABLE16.pdf (mislayed link)