Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Green Party Candidate Ingrid Alesich Blasts Sask Party, NDP on Childcare


Canada is last out of all the OECD (Organization for Economic and Co-operation and Development) countries in providing good quality, accessible childcare services and Saskatchewan is last in numbers, quality and affordability in the country.

Neither the NDP, nor the Sask Party are committed to changing the situation in any real way. The NDP had an opportunity to bring in low cost, accessible, childcare in their last governments. Several dozen studies and royal commissions in Canada over the last 40 years have all recommended: “Free, universally accessible, publically funded daycare” as the basis for critical early learning years for our future generations, for providing parents opportunities to gain higher education and attend work.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan will provide free, publicly funded childcare, with fairly paid and competent staff, and increase the number of spaces in daycare centres to at least the Canadian average.

Quebec provides the best Canadian example of a more accessible, affordable and quality childcare system. Currently parents need only pay $7 per day per child. One Quebec economist, Pierre Fortin, states that although other governments claim they cannot afford a fully funded, universal childcare system, the opposite is true. In fact governments more than recoup costs. He says, “For every $1 that Quebec invests, it recoups $1.05, while Ottawa receives a 44 cent windfall."* This is because if there are sufficient spaces for a variety of age-groups of children, women have the opportunity to get training and employment where they pay taxes to both the provincial and federal governments, rather than perhaps being subsidized totally by social assistance. In 2008, some 70,000 more women with young children were able to enter the workforce. The ripple effect pumped $5.2 billion into the Quebec economy, boosting the province’s GDP by 1.7% with purchasing power, income tax, investments, pensions etc.

During World War II there were fully funded, childcare centres right in the workplaces of the war machine. Women suddenly became capable of building bombs, tanks and other machinery needed for the war effort whilst most men were fighting in Europe. The federal and provincial governments magically provided on-site daycares. As soon as the war was over, one of the first cuts the feds made, was to shut down the daycare centres, to force women back into domestic “bliss”.

Dwayne Lingenfelter is paying lip-service to bringing in more spaces, but would still charge parents $22 per day per child. The Sask Party's recent promise is not in line with their past actions.

This is an important issue for the education of future generations of Saskatchewan children, and families in all their diversity: Middle, and lower income earners, First Nations and Metis, immigrant children and children of professionals. Not only would it provide a fundamental good start for children, but it would help many on social assistance and people with disabilities, enter the workforce. Such people would become contributing, taxpaying members of community, increasing the pool of labour for our province.

* (Parentcentral.ca website: "Quebec`s child-care scheme pays for itself, economist" by Laurie Morsebraaten. June 22, 2011)

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