Response and Commentary on throne speech proposal for more funding to Non-Parental Child Care

Commentary

Sept 24. Helen Ward – (PDF): “Commentary on the speech from the throne

By Helen Ward

(Below is an excerpt from the latest Speech from the Throne by the federal government under the Liberal
Party of Canada with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau)

The Liberal Party promised ‘universal child care’ in the 2006 election and came under fire when a lead
staffer said funding parents directly was a mistake because parents would spend the money on “beer and
popcorn”. They lost that election to the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper which promised the
Universal Child Care Benefit of a taxable $100/month/child age 0-6 to all families.

In 2015 the Liberals won back power with a promise to increase funding directly to families with a re-
vamped Canada Child Benefit, with no mention of daycare funding even though that had been expected.
Again in the 2019 federal election there was no talk of daycare funding and the Liberals won a second
term.

Now, between elections, the Liberals have made the vote-losing error of promising more money for
daycare rather than for families themselves.

With Covid-19 concerns about contagion shutting down university and school classes, gatherings,
businesses, medical services, etc. this decision to promote and increase institutional care of babies and
young children makes no sense whatsoever. Little ones are incapable of social distancing or maintaining
hygiene protocols or wearing masks. Parents know this.

Peer-reviewed empirical research shows conclusively that children in group care settings suffer far more
and worse illnesses than other children. The Swedish government found that children in institutional care
were 6.78 times more likely to be sick than children cared for by their family. Daycare centres have been
found to be the source of anti-biotic resistant ‘super-bugs’, and were reportedly called the “open sewers of
the 20 th century” by an epidemiologist.

Moreover, the crude push increase preferential funding for daycare in order to increase mothers’ time in
paid work blatantly disregards mothers’ diverse situations and preferences. The government’s
misogynistic, myopic, evidence-ignoring, undemocratic framing of ‘gender equity’ has replaced the goal
of ‘women’s liberation’.

Corporations and banks support preferential daycare funding because they benefit from new profit-
making opportunities that arise with daycare funding and with treating the negative health impacts
daycare causes, and also from an artificially swollen labour supply that reduces wage demands. Unions
see opportunities to expand membership and power. The anti-family ideologues backed by corporations,
banks, and union gloat over the realization of their ‘new order’ dystopian vision of ‘the new child’, ‘the
public child’.

Families, and women and children themselves are ignored as these powerful ‘stakeholders’ drive an
agenda that has very little voter buy-in.

VIDEO

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/throne-speech-child-care-1.5735899

SPEECH TEXT

Women in the Economy

Women – and in particular low-income women – have been hit hardest by COVID-19. This
crisis has been described as a She-cession.

Many women have bravely served on the front lines of this crisis, in our communities or by
shouldering the burden of unpaid care work at home.

We must not let the legacy of the pandemic be one of rolling back the clock on women’s
participation in the workforce, nor one of backtracking on the social and political gains women
and allies have fought so hard to secure.

The Government will create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women
get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and
recovery. This Plan will be guided by a task force of experts whose diverse voices will power a
whole of government approach.

It has been nearly 50 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women outlined the
necessity of child care services for women’s social and economic equality. We have long
understood that Canada cannot succeed if half of the population is held back. Canadians need
more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high quality childcare.

Recognizing the urgency of this challenge, the Government will make a significant, long-term,
sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
The Government will build on previous investments, learn from the model that already exists
in Quebec, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure that high-quality care is
accessible to all.

There is broad consensus from all parts of society, including business and labour leaders, that
the time is now.

The Government also remains committed to subsidizing before- and after-school program
costs. With the way that this pandemic has affected parents and families, flexible care options for
primary school children are more important than ever.

The Government will also accelerate the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, which has
already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.

Extended Response

Sept 24. Helen Ward – (PDF): “Response to the throne speech proposal for more funding to non-parental child care”

By Helen Ward

The throne speech repeats tired, sexist, anti-science sound bites which have long
been proven false and electorally disastrous. We are again being asked to believe
that billions of dollars are needed to build a daycare ‘system’ because -1-
institutional care is great for children; and -2- because mothers are not working and
they should be.

The speech continues the government’s attack on children’s and women’s Charter
rights. Kids First Parent Association of Canada has begun the process towards
launching a Charter Challenge against the harmful, discriminatory allocation of
public funds for early learning and child care.

Regarding children’s Charter rights:

COVID-19 has made it very clear that institutional care of vulnerable people spreads
disease and thus endangers the mental and physical health of everyone, and
causes massive economic damage.

Babies and little children have always been incapable of following hygiene
protocols, let alone social distancing. Their development requires much physical
contact and closeness. Nor should they be burdened with managing their own
safety or with messages that cause them anxiety.

Yet, while university and school classrooms are largely closed, daycares are kept
open, propped up with billions of dollars in subsidies. The funding flows and is even
increased despite the fact that even fewer children are actually there.

The peer-reviewed empirical evidence has repeatedly found that institutional child
care spreads disease, is of inadequate quality, and causes harm to children’s
physical and emotional health that lasts into young adulthood at least.

The claim that licensed daycare benefits children and therefore produces
miraculous economic returns of up to over $17 for every $1 is found only in the
fiction-filled publications of daycare proponents and not in peer-reviewed empirical
research.

Ignoring science by providing and incentivizing use of harmful institutional care is
an attack on children and violates their Charter right to security of person.

Regarding women’s Charter rights:

The government is continuing the misogynistic agenda targeting mothers – and the
throne speech mentions “especially low income mothers” – to coerce them into
spending more time at jobs and less time with their children. This discriminatory
agenda has no regard for individual women’s diverse preferences and

circumstances.The government specifically targets women for economic coercion via with carrots
and sticks, rewarding us with subsidies and with and recognition for ‘choosing’ the
approved choice. In this view, some mothers are good girls: they are working, they
are contributing and producing. We are meant to understand that those who don’t
comply with the approved agenda of full-time jobs for mums and full time daycare
for kids are bad girls: not working, not contributing, and not productive.

The government apparently believes that women are not entitled to be treated like
adult citizens capable of making decisions for ourselves and our families. Myopic,
misogynistic, unscientific economic agendas must override individual women’s own
agendas.

This is discrimination based on sex and therefore violates the equality rights
enshrined in section 15 of The Charter.

Child care is costly whatever form it takes. Women have many reasons for our
decisions. Many mothers, and especially low-income mothers, have less income
because we spend less time working at acquiring income and more time working at
unwaged parental child care. We refuse the bribe because we want to look after our
own kids, or our children have special needs, or the daycare won’t take our children.
Maybe we do waged work during so-called ‘non-standard hours’ outside of the
Leave It to Beaver 9 to 5 daycare world. Or we prefer dad or relative or friend or
nanny care, or a combo of these. Or we are worried about family members getting
COVID-19.

Whatever the reasons, unwaged female child care work subsidizes government
funding for non-parental child care. This is exploitation, not equality.

Child care is the care of a child. All children need child care 24/7/365. Only about
18% of children 1-5 are in daycare settings according to Statistics Canada, pre-
COVID-19. Moreover, statistical evidence shows parents’ overwhelmingly prefer
parental child care.

It is good that the government is aware that women do most of the unpaid care
work. But this inequality problem is solved by equal allocation of child care funding
directly to parents, and not by discriminating against parental child care.
Fund children, not spaces; and recognize that child care is productive work whoever
does it.

Photo Credit: Screenshot via Senate of Canada via https://sencanada.ca/en/sencaplus/news/in-pictures-an-unusual-speech-from-the-throne/