Canada’s budget for universal childcare

The federal budget of April 2021 bears scrutiny for many reasons. Chief among them though for the parents of the nation are the gaps between intention and action. There are little shafts of bias leaking through, and an agenda for a lifestyle government not only wants us to have but is heavily pushing us to have.

In a democracy this gap between what they say and what they actually do is a source of concern. One might put up a sign over this budget even ‘Mind the gap”

Here are some of the problems and inconsistencies in this budget. They reveal an amazing bias.

1.   The plan defines the care role at home two entirely different ways

a. it says it is useful work

          it bemoans the fact that “unpaid work is not valued in traditional

          economic terms

b. it says it is not work at all

          -(the pandemic has) made it more difficult for some

          women to work full time or some to work at all. 

          -more than 16,00 women have dropped out of the labour force           completely

          -fifty years ago only half of Canadian women participated in the           labour market

          (it suggests that at home ) women are not able to ‘fully participate in
          the economy’

          -women start from a position of disadvantage in the workforce

          -measures to support women’s employment (suggesting women                                     at home are not employing their time usefully at all)

          -it says that the task force of women with paid work are ‘leading

          voices’ for the advisory team, implying that women without

          paid work are not leading voices

          -some have had to leave their jobs

          -without access to childcare, parents cannot fully participate in our


          -(daycare  is) a plan to secure women’s place in the workforce

          (not being at home leads to ) a growing qualified workforce

          -it excludes women at home from the category of ‘working women”

          and in its charts only considers women in paid jobs as working

2. The plan claims to aim for universal benefit, inclusiveness yet it actually denies benefit to anyone except those who use the one care style- daycare

a. it uses terms of inclusiveness

          -a plan of recovery that gives all women in Canada the ability

          to fully participate in our economy

          -this will create an economy that works for everyone

          -every child deserves a fair start

          -to offer each and every child the best start in life

          -making sure that everyone has the same access to opportunities

          -to give every Canadian child the same head start

          -we are at our best when we come together

          build a healthier, more inclusive, more equal Canada

          -a more equitable and inclusive society demands all

          Canadians come together

          -the Government of Canada is committed to building a more

          inclusive society that leaves no one behind

          -better respond to the unique needs of vulnerable people

          -improve the quality of life for all Canadians

          -building an economy that works for everyone

          -a social safety net  on which all Canadians can rely

          -Canada’s challenge now is to ensure an inclusive, intersectional

          recovery that builds a truly equitable society

          -actions the government is taking in this budget to improve fairness

          and inclusion

b. it actually leaves out all those who do not use daycare

          No money for those who use care by a father at  home, mother

          at home, sitter, nanny, those who use care by a grandma or other

          family member, no money for those who have a home based office

          or take the child to paid work, no money for those who offshift

          each other or tag-team parent so one is always with the kids while

          the other earns, no money for those  who had paid work only during

          school hours.  The plan is ONLY for those who use daycare.

3. the plan claims to ask everyone’s views, to consult widely  However it restricts its consultation actually to only those who promote paid work for parents and daycare use for kids

a. it claims to consult everyone

          -council would reflect Canada’s geographic, cultural, linguistic

          and socio-economic diversity

          -following consultations with stakeholders

          -an open and collaborative relationship with partners and


          -following consultations with stakeholders

          -government is proposing measures to strengthen our democratic


          -committed too. a decision-making process that considers

          the impacts of policy proposals on Canadians from all angles

          -now is the time to make sure every voice is heard

          -it decries the ‘absence of bargaining power’ among workers

b. it actually only consults the ones who agree with the plan

          This government has formed a task force composed

          only of women who promote daycare, some even linked

          to the employment of daycare workers

          This government has held consultations with parents that

          are closed door, by invitation only and only extended

          to parents who use daycare or are in the line up to use it

          It was true for consultations with Senator Landon Pearson,

          with Ken Dryden, and for formation of provincial

          agreements about childcare – only parents who use daycare

          are even made aware of the chance to have input

          (oddly it even identifies that it is offensive if women who are

          racialized or with disabilities are not included and ‘their voices

          are muted’ and yet it does not apparently seek the views

          of ordinary parents who do not use or want daycare. So it is aware

          that muting a voice is offensive but still does it)

4. It says the goal is affordable care. It actually would be a very high cost .

a. it  advertises its plan as offering low cost affordable care

          -the government will also ensure that families in Canada are no

          longer burdened by high child care costs

b. it actually presents to all taxpayers a huge bill for the plan, even more for its administration

          -Budget 2021 proposes new investments totalling up to $30 billion

          over the next five years and $8.3 billion ongoing for early learning

          and childcare and indigenous early learning and childcare

          -a minimum of $9.2 billion per year ongoing will be invested

          in childcare

          upt o $27.2 billion over five years..

          (ironically it sets up a huge bill that will grow)

          -the enabling accessibility fund to suport child care centres as

          they improve their physical accessibility – $29.2 million  over tow    years

          -will allow for further improvements to their system

          (ironically it sets up a permanent bill that will continue in perpetuity)

          -This is a legacy investment for today’s children  who will not only

          benefit from but also inherit the system

          -making this historic commitment a lasting one

          (there will also be a huge new bill just to administer the plan)

          -build a strong baseline of common, publicly available data on which

          to measure progress

          -an additional $34.5 million over 5 years and $3.5 million ongoing to

          strengthen capacity within the new federal secretariat on early

          learning and childcare    

          -improve the availability of data

5. It says  it is empowering women. It actually massively insults many women.

a. it says it is empowering women

          -it enables parents, particularly mothers, to reach their full economic


          -gender equality and diversity are fundamental to creating a thriving

          and successful country

          -Our lives are better thanks to the efforts of the women who came

          before us. If we are to honor their legacy and our daughters’ futures,

          we must continue to fight for gender equality _ quote by Landry

          cited in the budget

          -educational paths should be chosen based on interests and aptitudes,

          free from gendered expectations and stereotypes

          -unlocking the potential of all women and girls

b. it actually insults a traditional role women have always had

          (it sees the at home role not as useful but as a burden and

          lack of work, productivity or participation in the economy.

          It stereotypes the at home role as ‘just’ a housewife and clearly

          considers those who do it failures, not using their skills

          It quotes economics documents that in their own text

          refer to women dropping out of the labor force, and losing

          their skills and their skills atrophying if they are at home.
          So it massively insults women while claiming to be an agent

          to empower and respect women)

          (It speaks of its great sympathy for marginalized women and yet

          it itself marginalizes women who are in the home)

          -it refers to women in traditional roles apparently who are

          therefore’ held back from achieving their full potential”

6/  It claims to be flexible, adjusting to needs . However it is very inflexible in practice.

a. it claims to be flexible

          -it is often challenging to find affordable  and accessible child

          care spaces that meet their needs

          -indigenous childcare)  strengthening high-quality,

          culturally appropriate child care guided by indigenous


          -meets the needs of indigenous families wherever they live

          -allow providers to offer more flexible and full time hours

          of care

b. it actually is very regimented and standardized, intractable

          The options is just daycare. You can take it part time or full

          time but that is surely not a very wide range of flexibility ot

          funding. The money goes directly to the daycare so parents

          do not even have a say in where to direct it or what

          religion, language, culture of care to expose their child to.

          In fact parents often have to live with the hours and rules

          of a daycare that are very strict. In fact parents have to

          pay for the daycare late fee pickup per minute.

          In fact parents have to pay for the daycare space even

          when their child is home sick and not able to attend.

          The system is not flexible either for those who use the        

          daycare system or for those who have no access to

          money unless they use the daycare system.

7.  It says the care sector is vital, a key underpinning of the economy. Then it also says that those who have care roles in the home are hobbled by them, enduring a burden they need to escape.

a. it says the care sector is vital

          -for far to long, the work women do, paid and unpaid, has been

          systematically devalued by our economy and by our society

          -it aims at a higher wage, above the median currently of

          $19.20 an our

          -this unpaid work is not valued in traditional economic terms

          -covid 19 has highlighted the essential nature of many of

          these jobs, especially front-line care work

          -(during the pandemic ) unpaid care work -predominantly

          carried out by women – increased as ..more meals needed to

          be cooked at home and public health authorities recommended        more

          cleaning and disinfecting

          -it acknowledges and praises the volunteer sector noting

          that of the 2.4 million people in Canada who work in charitable

          and non profit sectors, 70% are women.

          -it calls childcare ‘infrastructure’ therefore likening

          it to roads and bridges, an essential to an economy.

b. it says care roles are a burden to escape, and denies women or men at home who provide care even the label of childcare workers

          -unpaid work cuts into the number of hours that women

          can spend in the paid workforce

          -(women) have overwhelmingly borne the burdens of

          unpaid care work.

          -to address the burden of unpaid work on women

          -closure of schools and childcare centres exacerbated work-life

          balance challenges (it sees the at home role not just as not

          work but also as women being very unhappy to be there)

8.. It claims that daycare is a promise made long ago and finally fulfilled. Actually it was not a promise. And actually the promises were for valuing all care.

a. it claims daycare was a promise

          It cites the 1970 Royal Commission on the Status of women as

          calling on government to ‘establish a national daycare plan’ It says

          this is a promise that it took 50 years to fulfill so uses emotional

          language about promises .

b. actually the promise was to value all care

          The actual document did recommend an emergency placement

          for children who were unable to get care by parents or other

          family members, but only a small and emergency back up plan. 

          The document actually said

          The Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommends that the           family be the unit of taxation. It also recommends a ‘substantial cash           allowance’ of possibly $500, in monthly installments for dependent           children to age 16, taxed for wealthy families, but universal.  “No tax           receipts would be required as evidence of child care expenses because           the child care allowance would be paid to all mothers..The           contribution made by mothers who stay home to care for children           would be recognized and fewer mothers would be forced to work           outside for financial reasons (it is never enacted) The Commission           also noted that child development requires a stable relationship with             the same  adult during the first three years

          There are many promises Canada has made that actually

          argue for parental right to choose care style. The Convention

          on  the Rights of the child defends  the right of the child

          to be raised in the presence of the parent wherever possible

          and the right of the parent to raise the child in the language

          religion and values of the parent and the status of the parent

          as most knowledgeable about the best interests of the child.

          Canada also made a promise to value unpaid work, to tally

          it and to call it work, to include it in national accounts and to

          consider in every government department the effect of

          legislation of the unpaid care sector and women.  Canada

          signed on to that promise at the UN .

9.  It claims to promote and advance early learning, to reach education potential of all children. Actually it rides on the coattails of the reputation of actual schools, and in fact is not staffed by qualified certified teachers, has minima actual educational metrics and will not teach a child even to read.

a. it claims  to be providing early education

          – to offer each and every child the best start in life

          -this will be a transformative project on a scale with the work

          of previous generations of Canadians who built a public school           system

          -ensure that early childhood educators are at the heart of the system,

          valuing their work

b. it actually is not able to promise, measure or provide educational guarantees of success

          -the term of ‘high quality care’ has no metrics for literacy

          or numeracy because those are not even goals of the


          -the system aims at ‘readiness to learn’ but actually kids

          are born ready to learn

          -the system aims at developmental staged care and

          yet kids develop at vastly different pace and the system’          groups

          them only by chronological age.

          -the system claims to help kids develop and yet kids equally

          well develop in the home. Early learning may happen in      

          the childcare center but it does not only happen there

          or happen there better than in the care of a parent, grandparent

          or nanny. In other words this document claims to uniquely

          own a phenomenon that is provided widely in many other

          locations as efficiently  – as if claiming it alone offers

          nutrition at one restaurant.

          -there are studies by economists Miilligan and Lefebve

          that have found that cognitive outcomes for kids in daycare

          are actually not as good as in some other care locations

          There is also a very troubling assumption evident in some

          of the budget that hints that unless education is done

          the official way of the white culture, that it is not really

          education. This attitude is hinted at in the pages about

          childcare and indigenous people where we read that

          ‘26% of indigenous opepole had no educational

          credentials”. “Inuit men were most likely to report none”

          It is shocking to read such a devaluing of the wisdom, experience

          and culture of an entire group who are seen as flawed on

          a basis outside their culture. This condescending attitude sadly

          was a key flaw of the residential school system , the assumption

          that kids in parental care are not getting useful training

          in anything and that they must be taken from that environment

          to ‘educate’ them the right way. It is an offensive assumption.

          The daycare plan does not force kids away from parents and the

          children are allowed to go home at night. However the financial

          tilt to pressure parents to have to use the daycare, and the

          heaping praise for the daycare option as somehow a better

          educational approach, and exposing children to that

          state approved language and values system daily for

          most of early childhood will risk having effects similar

          to denial of education in the parental traditions. This

          could be a huge risk both to children’s wellbeing,

          parental rights, and to risk of lawsuits directed

          at a government that created such intense financial

          pressure to only get that type of ‘education”

11. It claims to offer high quality care. However it is riding on the coattails of the good reputation of the high ethics of health care providers, and in fact does not offer care of the sick or handicapped at all. A sick child is told to leave the building.

a. it sounds like it offers comprehensive care

          -to build a Canada wide child care system.

          -this will be a transformative project on a scale with the work

          of previous generations of Canadians, who built public health care

b. it actually does not offer health care at all

          -a sick child is excluded from the daycare center if they

          have any contagious condition at all

          -there is little provision for handicapped children,

          autistic children or even children with many allergies

          -not only does the daycare plan not accommodate those

          who are sick, so it is not really offering unconditional

          care, but children actually get sick quite often. This

          means that kids will be away from the daycare several

          times a year on average but will still be obliged to

          pay for the daycare’ space’ and all taxpayers will be

          obliged to pay for ‘care’ that is not being provided.

          This is an inefficient way to fund care.

          In addition daycares put together in one room many small

          children who have only a small understanding of personal

          hygiene, handwashing, toileting and food safety.

          The result is that viruses and infections spread widely in

           a daycare. It is normal for an infection like flu or colds

          or pink eye or even head lice to spread widely in a daycare

          not just to the children but to the caregiver. It is true

          that young children heal quickly from most minor infections

          but it is also true that some do not, and that when they

          are sick initially they are often very sick. This means

          that the budget that promises that putting small children

          into group care is good care may not be agreed by

          all parents as optimal care. So the term use if somewhat

          misleading. This is nothing like a  public hospital


13. It as a document appeals to emotions rather than focusing on logic.

a. it waves the flag

          -a truly Canadian system of child care

          -a Canada- wide early learning and childcare system

          – a truly Canada wide system of childcare

          – Canada also took to the stage as a leader in advancing

          gender equality

          -improve quality of life for all Canadians

b. it speaks in battle language

          –we must continue to fight for gender equality

c. it personifies the goal as if it is a living thing we all should nurture

          -it speaks of a robust economy, growing the economy     

          -working with provinces and territories to grow quality spaces

10. Its real agenda shows through clearly.

The budget document touches many emotional notes to sound ground breaking. Yet it only takes women from the home to paid work, as if that is the only way they can have value. So it hugely assists women who want at all times the career goal and is a dramatic way to give them by making all taxpayers pay for their daycare to get them there.

However by its conditions it actually devalues any roles women used to have or any creative ways they try to combine paid work and family that do not use daycare.

 So it is not a full liberation, only a half liberation and along the way it is somewhat insulting to women actually.

By only valuing time spent away from the children, it runs a serious risk of discouraging parenting at all,  leading to a decline in birth rate, In one generation that slow decline will lead to a much more startling lack of government revenue than is even imagined by this budget. And that would be a big problem for the economy – fewer taxpayers, in perpetuity.

If any government has taken for granted unpaid labor before, ignoring its anchor to the health care and education and social welfare system done for free, well just wait and see what happens when you knock down that support.. The bridge of the economy would lose a key pillar.  The costs to pay professional level care for what used to be done at home gently, naturally, could be huge..

          The 2021 budget is a political document and its focus is government

          revenue, government jobs, and keeping unions happy..

          (it wants Quebec votes, referring to the Quebec

          daycare system ) which the people of Quebec are rightly proud of

          (it wants union votes speaking of care workers needing good pay and

          decrying any ‘lack of bargaining power among workers, as evidenced

          by he decline in private sector unions

          By calling the childcare plan infrastructure and comparing it to

          universal free public education or universal health care it is

          trying to make unionized daycare jobs an essential service

          It really only values women if they have paid work.

          which is a huge boon to the union’s power.

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