Childcare: Key Piority for PM Stephen Harper

On the Fourth of April 2006, during his speech from the throne (, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced five key priorities Canada’s new government has pledged to address over the coming weeks and months. Among these five was Child Care. (

Based on the notion that no two Canadian families are exactly alike, and therefore, no two Canadian families have exactly the same child care needs, the Conservative Party decided to call off the Liberals last minute national child care plan and replace it with a different kind of plan- a plan intended to give Canadian parents and caregivers a choice in child care. This ‘choice’ will be recognized, by all parents who have children less than six years of age, through a monthly childcare allowance of $100 per child. That is, $100 per month, per child under the age of six. While not many parents are disappointed with this allowance, some groups and childcare advocates oppose this plan. A major concern for these individuals is that a mere $100 a month does little to provide “choice” to families who can spend up to four times that amount per week in child care fees.

In a recent CBC interview (, Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, responded to this concern by saying “[this allowance is] not meant to provide totally subsidized daycare. That's not the intention.” Instead, the Conservative’s plan is intended to provide a better alternative to the Liberal proposed government run nine-to-five daycare. With this new plan, all parents, not just ones that work nine-to-five, will have a choice. They will be able to decide the type of child care their children receive, they will be able to choose when to use that care, and they will be able to select the individuals and groups they feel are most qualified to provide it- all choices that are influenced by the caregiver’s unique personality, career schedules, and parenting needs.

This plan however, does not stop with a cheque. The other feature of this plan, the one which is most appreciated by those fed up with long waitlists and limited child care spaces, is the Conservative’s objective to create 125,000 new child care spaces across Canada. What is unique about this feature is that it is not the government who will actually create these spaces. Rather, it will be a collaborated effort between the provinces and territories, businesses, and community non-profit organizations. The Conservatives will endeavour to empower individuals and groups, through agreed upon incentives, to create child care spaces where they are needed, when they are needed, by the community members who know how to meet them.

As for the implementation of this plan, Finley’s message to parents is that “[it will] take effect July 1. And the cheques to roll right after that, assuming it gets Royal Assent…then next April we'll bring in our incentives to create the new daycare spaces, the childcare spaces.”


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