A Victory for Parents and Kids: NDP Switcheroo on Funding Parents

On Saturday (Sept 27—my baby turned 11 months) an NDP volunteer knocked at my door asking for my vote. I told her that the NDP’s daycare favouring policy was a major concern to me. She was very sympathetic and agreed “it wasn’t democratic,” and said she’d take the feedback back to the campaign. I gave her my contact card for Kids First.

THEN…

On Sunday NDP Leader Jack Layton announced that the “centrepiece” of the NDP’s platform is a new child benefit that will provide up to $5,000/child/year up to age 18. It would combine existing benefits and credits and be non-taxable and be income based.

I don’t suppose my Saturday chat was a determining factor, but I know that the NDP volunteer certainly did not know about this “centrepiece” platform. I also know that Ian Capstick, Jack Layton’s press secretary, could not have known about it 2 weeks ago when we had a heated discussion about funding daycare and not parental child care or even when he called a few days later to apologize.

SO…

I can only assume that the NDP has switched gears after belatedly getting the message that daycare centres are not the be-all and end-all. As I have been saying for some years, funding daycare is a vote loser and funding parents is a vote winner.

The actual policy content and dollars involved are less significant than the change in rhetoric.

Parent empowerment is in, parent-bashing is out.

And that can only be good for kids. And for those of us doing the vast majority of the child care—mothers.

The Conservatives $100/month cheque, so much belittled in the last election and since by all other parties, coupled with the absolutely necessary cutting of public funding to some (not all) daycare-lobbyists set things in motion. Now, as featured parts of Liberal and NDP election platforms, the former critics promise not only to keep the $100/month “pin money,” but also to increase it.

The Conservatives may have roused a sleeping giant, a giant that is quiet because it has no loud heavily funded voice, but not to be ignored at election time: the parental voting block.

The competition for the parental vote is on.

Helen Ward,
President
Kids First Parent Association of Canada