Kids First Parent Association of Canada was started in 1987 in Calgary, Alberta, as Kids First Parent Association of Calgary and registered as a non-profit society in Alberta. In January 2020 the society’s registration was transferred to British Columbia.
Kids First has worked hard to provide data that exposes unfair discrimination against family-based care-giving of children and those (mostly mothers) who do it. Discrimination is widespread. It is found in legislation and policy concerning
- definitions of “child care” that exclude care by family/parents
- definitions of “work” that exclude care-work outside of the GDP sector
- funding for lobbying
- child care funding and subsidies
- unemployment insurance
- maternity benefits
- social assistance
- census data
- child and spousal support
- pensions, etc.
We have struggled to have the voice of the 90% of families that do not use daycare even heard by legislators.
We stand for the well-being of children and their families, parental choice in child care, and for equity in child care funding.
Executive members made presentations to government committees, met with politicians and established a national network. Demonstrations to raise public awareness, guest appearances on radio and at speaking engagements raised public profile of the equality movement. National petitions were held and ultimately there was a two pronged challenge launched in the Income Tax Court of Canada in 1993 (Boland). Fund-raising and hiring of expert witnesses for this court challenge paid off—the court did rule that there was a discrimination currently in the law.
Members of Kids First made complaints to the Human Rights Commission and to the Division for the Advancement of Women at the UN. The UN Conference at Beijing in 1995 rallied all member nations to value unpaid caregiving labour, and Canada signed the Platform for Action in that regard.
In 1999 the UN Working Group issued a statement that there was indeed a problem still, including legal systems discriminating, a high incidence of women and children in poverty and a lack of women in decision-making. Since then members of Kids First have met with the ministers of finance, status of women and with MPs working on behalf of children, from all parties.
Kids First networks with other parent support groups here and abroad. The movement to value caregiving labour has become a major force in sociological studies as well as a focus of the next big push in the struggle for women’s equality.
Since September 2001 Kids First has used primarily the internet to communicate and is exploring options for a legal challenge to discriminatory legislation and policies.
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