Harper Fiscal Accountability Fail: Billions Omitted in PBO Child Care Report

Kids First Parent Association of Canada

Burnaby, BC – April 8, 2015: Kids First Parent Association of Canada says the Harper government lacks fiscal accountability for child care funding and calls on the Parliamentary Budget Office to retract its new report, “How Much Does the Federal Government Spend on Child Care and Who Benefits?” The non-partisan grassroots parent group cites three concerns.

The report fails to improve federal fiscal accountability because it omits billions in federal funding to provinces for non-parental child care which lower the price of daycare even for high income families. $1.275 billion went to provinces in 2013-14 under the Early Child Development agreement, and another $1.275 billion under the Early Learning and Child Care agreement. Other funding subsidizes daycare via the National Child Benefit, the Child Care Spaces Initiative; and funding for daycare in military, on reserves and in language programs.

Child care is the care of a child. All parents obviously have child care expenses. The PBO chose the discriminatory definition of “child care” invented by Revenue Canada. Only paid child care in daycare, by a nanny, at a boarding school, or camp is included.

Parental child care – mostly done by mothers – and all related costs are excluded yet this is the most used and preferred type. Statistics Canada says under 15% of children 0 to 6 are in daycare centres yet more funds flow to daycare.

The discriminatory definition perpetuates sexism because women as mothers do – and want to do – the majority of child care work, yet their opportunity costs – foregone employment income – and cash outlays for heat, food, etc. are officially $0. A 2003 Statistics Canada report, “Unpaid Informal Caregiving”, found unpaid family child care work was worth least $58.7 billion back in 1998.

The PBO chose to use the definition in the Child Care Expense Deduction. The purpose of this policy – and others – is to subsidize daycare in order to increase mothers’ GDP-counted activity (“labour market attachment”) and reduce maternal child care. This amounts to the manipulation of women’s behaviour and desires in order to coerce women into increasing time at jobs. This definition choice legitimizes disregard for what women do and want.

The PBO misleads in claiming that child care funding is “progressive” – benefiting lower income more than high income. The claim is based on measuring benefits as a “percentage of income” rather than actual dollar amounts. In fact families with two high incomes using daycare centres benefit more because the Child Care Expense Deduction provides up to over $3600 per child for top tax bracket incomes.

“The PBO claims we have no child care expenses, so we don’t deserve financing. But they omit billions in daycare funding, so daycare looks cash-starved and needs more. The PBO makes parental child care work invisible, worth nothing, and undeserving. This makes mothers invisible, marginalized, and exploitable. We demand retraction of this fallacious, misogynistic report and an end to definitions of child care that perpetuate discrimination,” says Helen Ward, Kids First President and a low-income single mother.

Contact: info@kidsfirstcanada.org,
Helen Ward 604-291-0088

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