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Sunday, 2 August 2015

NDP Daycare: Doomed to Failed

Why the NDP’s National Daycare is a terrible idea

This is a guest post by Martina Crory 


As a mother to a young son who goes to daycare at wonderful, downtown facility minutes away from my University, it seems I won the jackpot. But not quiet- I earned this spot and chose it from many alternative daycares. I chose this one because I liked the location, I liked the program and I felt comfortable leaving my son there. And I pay accordingly. I looked at another facility under the same regulations, rules, and expectations set by the province but I wasn’t sold. It was also $600 dollars cheaper. I pay for the level of service I want. It costs more for a great location and dedicated programming. You don’t stay at a motel expecting quality room service and down duvets. So what do we expect from childcare?

Now the New Democrats are offering up daycare at $15 a day and have disclosed very little information on how exactly they plan to do this. No doubt it will be an expensive affair that is not based on a reliable fiscal foundation. With daycare currently being a provincial endeavor it is on those provinces to establish more daycare spaces, better hours and more involved curriculum. Adding federal policy will only make it messier. 

Every province has its own market, its own demand and its own needs around childcare. Just because there is a lot of children not in daycare doesn’t mean they want to be. There’s a variety reasons why children aren’t in daycare: stay at home parents, those who pay friends, those who have hired nannies and those who get drop in care when needed. Opening the doors to cheap childcare will disrupt the current ability of the provinces to meet the needs of the country.  

For example, Mother A is a nurse and works variable shifts like 2-9. Her friend, sister, or family member watches her 2 children for $800 a month. That is considerably lower then the cost of institutional daycare, it gives an average person an opportunity to earn money while remaining flexible under their schedules. But if Mother A suddenly sees the opportunity for a cheaper cost- at the expense of the tax payers, not only does it take up space for other children who would not have any alternatives but it would increase a demand for her to work the hours of the daycare.

I struggled to find a job that could work around daycare hours- it’s a real thing. In the era of “flexible shifts” and evening and weekends makes a 9-5 job a tough find. Increasing daycare spaces on the same prehistoric model of childcare will be a disaster, never mind ones that costs pennies. The surge in parents looking for hours to accommodate those hours will crumble the availability for parents who need them- not parents who want to save a couple of dollars. 

The pop-up daycares looking for a piece of that government pie will produce lots of low quality, unmanageable and under-regulated centers that our federal government will be responsible for. It’ll strain the federal budget and cost the average Canadian working for their pre-existing childcare frustrated.  The NDP are selling families on a flawed daycare idea that will never work. The average Canadian family who already has daycare will now be subsidizing care for thousands of children who would of regularly not had the demand for low cost daycare based on a decades old model.