Media Release: International Women’s Day complaint to federal government: end discrimination against mothers caring for their kids


Burnaby, BC – March 8, 2018 – Kids First Parent Association of Canada is marking International Women’s Day by submitting a formal complaint to the federal government regarding discrimination. A letter submitted today outlines discrimination against both mothers working primarily in parental child care, and their children.

March 8, 2018. Helen Ward. Kids First Parent Association of Canada – letter to government Download PDF here

The volunteer run parents’ group says the recent federal budget and related statements about “getting mothers back to work” are the latest in a long history of policies that are intended to shame, stigmatize, dis-value and coerce mothers away from parental child care.

At issue are the definitions of key terms used in many laws and statements: child care, work, gender equity, and economic growth.

Many laws explicitly define child care to exclude parental child care, including the Child Care Expense Deduction which allows parent to deduct child care costs until a child is age 16. Provincial laws such as the BC Child Care act similarly specifically exclude parental child care.

These policies mean that parental child care receives no funding while daycare centre spaces are heavily subsidized even for high income families.

This deprives the majority of children of the benefit of child care funding simply because of family status.

Kids First urges the government to adopt inclusive, non-discriminatory definitions of key terms. In such an approach, work includes unwaged parental child care and other unwaged work. Child care is the care of a child, and includes parental child care. Economic growth includes productivity that is excluded from Gross Domestic Product calculations. And women’s equality is not reduced to gender equity measurements of percentages of women in jobs, but is measured by women’s security of person, well-being, and happiness.

The letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos points out that the government is preferentially funding child care in daycare centres which has repeatedly been found to be of inadequate quality that does not meet children’s developmental needs, and to have adverse effects on children’ physical and emotional well-being.

The letter states that these polices violate rights to security of person, liberty, and equality and discriminate based on sex, gender expression, family status, and marital status.

The letter lists numerous adverse effects resulting from these policies. These include perpetuating harmful negative stereotypes about women – especially single mothers – and exacerbating emotional, physical and economic abuse of women and fear of such abuse.

“The government is sending a clear message stigmatizing maternal child care as a problem that needs to be solved. Women who prioritize this work are being coerced by government policies and financial incentives to choose institutional child care even if this is not their preference. Why punish parents for caring for our own children? Government should respect women’s choices, not compel them. This is misogynistic, discriminatory, and undemocratic,” says Helen Ward, a single mother and President of Kid First Parent Association of Canada.

The group is seeking an apology with corrective action, and a response from the federal government in two weeks, March 22. The letter concludes, “With feminism like this, who needs patriarchy?”

Contact: Helen Ward

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