Federal Election: Liberal child care promises a shell game

The Liberals’ child care promises are a shell game in which kids are the losers, said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

CUPE Federal Election Campaign Page

“The Liberals’ plan for child care announced today delivers less than current commitments and still fails to direct public funding to public, not-for-profit delivery of child care services,” said Moist. “Who are the Liberals trying to fool? Voters will see right through it.”

Moist was reacting to the Liberals’ child care announcements earlier this morning. The Liberals are promising to allocate $1.2 billion per year from 2009 to 2015, a step backwards from the government’s current commitments of over $1.8 billion annually. The funds will be handed over to the provinces to spend on child care as they see fit.

Moist pointed out a discrepancy with the number of spaces provided under a Liberal plan. Today the Liberals say they will create 625,000 new spaces ($1,600 per space). In 2004, the Liberals estimated they would create 100,000 new child care spaces at about $9,000 per space, which is closer to the real cost. How the Liberals would create 625,000 new spaces with less money on the table doesn’t add up, said Moist.

“Worse, the Liberal election promises also lumps the need for new child care facilities in with other infrastructure needs,” Moist said. “This pits kids and parents against other community needs, such as water, transit, roads and bridges.”

And a central flaw in the federal government’s plan remains: the absence of legislation to ensure that the money is spent on public, not-for-profit child care.

“No legislation means the provinces can take the cash but not commit to public child care,” Moist said. “The Conservatives would send public money directly to Kid-Mart. The Liberals would let the provinces do it. In the end, there’s no guarantee for public child care because the provinces are just doing what they want.”

“After all this time, you’d think the Liberals would get it right,” Moist said. “Parents and kids need federal legislation to make sure the money goes to quality, public, not-for-profit child care centres and programs, not to big box commercial operators. Enforceable mechanisms are the only way to build a public system that is high-quality, universal and accessible.”