From pensions for “stay at home mums” to beer and popcorn: How the Liberal party reversed its policy on children and families

The Liberals have done a complete reversal of their position on children’s care. In 1999, the Liberal government issued a report with a set of principles to guide child and family policy that makes the Conservative party $1,200 plan look pathetic.

1999. (PDF): “Final Report of the Sub-committee (of Finance Committee) on Tax Equity for Families of Dependent Children


In attempting to come up with a consensus amongst members of the Committee as to the nature of the current debate and possible solutions, we have been guided by several broad principles that we believe should apply to policies related to families with children.

These are, generally:

Our policy should be child centred and promote the best interest of the child to the greatest extent possible.

Our policy should presume that parents are the primary caregivers and that they are in the best position to determine what constitutes the best possible care arrangement for their children.

Our policy should provide flexibility, options and choices which will make it feasible for either parent to be the caregiver or to be in the paid workforce.

Our policy should be inclusive and responsive to the social realities, circumstances and preferences of parents and their children. Specifically, it should be sensitive to the situation of lone parents, stay-at-home parents, those with disabled children, the self-employed, students with children and those on social assistance.

Our policy should be fair and equitable and neither encourage nor penalize caregiving choices.

Recommendations for policy included:

  • Pensions for care-givers (ie mainly mums)

  • Refundable tax credits

Now even the terms “equity” and “Families with Dependent Children” are nowhere to be found . What happened there, eh?

The basis for the 1999 government report was the Liberal Party “Report of the Ad Hoc Study Group on Valuing Caregivers to the National Liberal Caucus Social Policy Committee,” 1998.

It has almost the same principles.

  • It starts with and continually emphasizes concerns about the development and well being of children, and details findings of serious concern with children now.

  • It says infants need a “loving” caregiver.

  • It states “the benefits of breastfeeding cannot be overstated”. Interesting that this was cut out.

  • AND it states that the discussion started as a result of the 1997 complaint to the UN by a “citizen” (i.e. Bev Smith, Kids First member at the time and later President).

    See this Kids First article for more info on this and Bev:
%d bloggers like this: