Debate on "Income Splitting" between Martha Friendly, Co-ordinator of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit and John Williamson, Head of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation

Monday May 26, 2008. Martha Friendly. Ontario CHCH News – Partial Radio Transcript [with commentary by Helen Ward]

“Live at 5:30”

Martha Friendly: …Providing better child care [she means daycare centres] would actually encourage more women to have more children while they’re employed [this is not true], which the economy certainly needs. The economy certainly needs women in the paid work force [it is good that Martha has clearly stated that it is really about the so-called “needs” of the so-called ‘economy’—the GDP and corporate profits—and not about the needs of children or women, or women’s liberation. Mothers and children are GDP fodder] …

I should also say that the assumption that you started with, that families with one earner in the work force are worse off is actually, many people [how many? who? and who cares what they think anyway?] consider that to be a MYTH [the fact is that the choice to have a second income has been shown to be a lifestyle choice: single income and dual families are found at every income level in about the same number. Dual income families have about $25,000/yr more than single income families on average. It is NOT a case of high-pay sugar-daddy husbands supporting privileged lazy ‘stay at home’ mums. Most low income famileis don’t use daycare centres]. As a matter of fact, many people consider single income dual-earner [sic??] families to be better off when you consider the costs of child care[she means daycare centres] [and do not consider the larger costs of doing it your self], which we don’t have. So I think the basic assumptions in this are really wrong. I think it’s really poor public policy.

As a person with a group of people who have advocated for universal early education and care, which I regard as a family-friendly policy, I fail to see how this would offer choice, the choice we’re always hearing about.

Host Donna: …you would have greater options because you would have more money.

Martha Friendly: Well as a matter of fact that isn’t necessarily the case because one of the things that is difficult for parents is finding GOOD child care, GOOD early childhood education [true—the majority of licensed daycare is rated “minimal to mediocre quality” by daycare promoters like Gillian Doherty hired by Martha] …there’s NO evidence [the evidence from Statistics Canada is that income transfers—that is providing “bits of money” is the only policy that lowers the rate of “child poverty”] that giving people money…bits of money which is what we do in Canada., we give them several bits of money to pay for child care, and there’s no evidence that …that would really be good for families, the kind of thing they have in other countries. [We live in Canada, not “other countries”] [Martha has repeatedly complained that the large “bits of money” once given to her by the federal government for daycare related lobbying have been eliminated].

John Williamson: Certainly you would agree that the best thing for kids is to have a parent looking after them as opposed to pushing them off into a daycare.

Host Donna: I would love to argue on that one, that’s not always the case

Martha Friendly: It depends on what you’re talking about. If you’re talking about babies, most people would agree, including myself, who really encourage the government to improve maternity and parental leave [any details about this? And what about the majority of mothers who are not eligible for EI?]. I would certainly encourage the government to do that further and make it a stronger policy than it now is.

But I think you would probably agree that by the time a child is about 2 and a half, most parents are actually looking for early childhood education [this does not mean they want to put their children in the centres Martha wants—education and learning happen everywhere] and most parents…

John Williamson: No, I wouldn’t actually agree on that.

Martha Friendly: That’s what the evidence shows [what evidence? Maybe she means the evidence that most kids spend some time with someone beside their mother or even with their mother outside their home—with dad, grandma, at the library, Sunday School, drop ins, music lessons, informal sports—all these are included in the “early education” that the “evidence” from Statistics Canada and the Human Early Learning Partnership counts.]

Host Donna: That is not true.

John Williamson: Most parents would rather spend more time with their kids as opposed to push them off into daycare.

Host Donna: That’s not true either [actually it is—9 out of 10 parents say they prefer parental child care and rank daycare centres choice #5 and parental child care choice #1—Vanier Institute 2004]

Martha Friendly: Neither thing is true [she admits being untruthful]

When we say a universal early childhood education and care system what we’re talking about is a system that actually provides choices for families. [as long as you choose what they want—but your choice to use parental care—or anything other than full time daycare centre care—will NOT be treated EQUALLY]

Host Donna: So it’s all encompassing?

Martha Friendly: That would include part time we call nursery schools and preschools and things like that, it would include regulated family child care, but it would actually be a system that allows those kinds of choices. And I would really argue..

Host Donna: Hold on a sec. So you have excluded then daycare at home, in the home that the family?…

Martha Friendly: Oh I would, no I wasn’t excluding that I just wasn’t listing it [yes she excludes that—being with parents and family is not included in her funding scheme], but the thing is, when you’re talking about, you sort of have to define what, what’s in you’re system [YES—the DEFINITIONS—THE FINE PRINT—ARE KEY]. And I would for example never suggest that people shouldn’t have their grandparents take care of their grandchildren [but also she never has suggested that they should or could or want to] but it wouldn’t really be part of a system because that’s within the family [so: families are not part of the “SYSTEM”—what kind of system is it that excludes the vast majority of us from any funding?]. But of course that’s something that if people are in a position to do that and they want it, it should be something that they should get to do [Martha’s version of democracy: grandparents (not parent I guess) are permitted to look after their grandkids].

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