Child care reality check 2008: Fact and fiction

    OTTAWA, Sept. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Even before the current federal election
call, the Harper government tried to spin its failed child care policies into
a success story. It's time to separate fact from fiction.

                        What's the reality behind ...
             federal spending on early learning and child care?

    Fact - Federal spending for regulated child care is only $600 million
    each year.

    Federal transfer funds to provinces for early learning and child care
total $600 million this year (down from $950 million in 2006). Additionally,
tax breaks for parents for receipted child care expenses total $695 million.

    Fiction - The Harper government claims it is spending $5.8 billion yearly
    on early learning and child care.

    In reality, this figure is inflated by including the so-called Universal
Child Care Benefit (UCCB) as well as the National Child Benefit. Neither of
these payments to parents has anything to do with child care services.

                        What's the reality behind ...
                 the "Universal Child Care Benefit" (UCCB)?

    Fact - The "UCCB" is not child care, it's an income support for parents.
    That's why the Canada Revenue Agency insists that parents claim this
    income and pay tax on it.

    This $100/month payment to parents for each child (less than)6 can be
spent on anything, once income taxes are paid. Actually, it's more likely to
be used for household bills, family recreation or RESPs than for child care

    Fiction - The Harper government claims that the UCCB has delivered
    "choice in child care".

    In reality, growth in child care spaces has slowed since the UCCB was
introduced. Centre closings and staff shortages are rampant. And, if families
are lucky enough to find a child care space, fees are between $600 and
$1,500/month. There is no evidence to show that parents who need child care
have more choice.

                        What's the reality behind ...
             accountability for federal spending on child care?

    Fact - There is no public accountability for federal spending on child

    The Harper government cancelled national plans for building a real child
care system, replacing it with payments to parents and transfers to provinces
and territories with no public accountability.

    Fiction - The Harper government claims that it is a good steward of
    public funds.

    In reality, there is no public accountability for ensuring that federal
funds are used to build a child care system. In fact, there are no spending
conditions attached to these funds. Transfer funds to provinces and
territories are not tied targets to build more spaces, lower parent fees or
raise child care provider's wages. Nor have we seen an evaluation of the
UCCB's effectiveness as a public expenditure. Canadians should be concerned
about billions going out the door each year with no public accountability,
while the child care services that we need to support our children, our
families and our economy are still in crisis.

                        What's the reality behind ...
        choosing between funding income support programs and funding child
                               care services?

    Fact - This is one choice that Canadians do not need to make. Many
    developed countries support children and families both through early
    learning and child care services and through income supports for lower-
    income families. But, Canada has the lowest spending on these services,
    and the lowest rates of access.

    Fiction - The Harper government claims that it has provided parents with
    resources to help balance work and family.

    In reality, working parents need child care and all families need adequate
incomes. But the UCCB does not deliver child care, nor does it target
lower-income families who need it most.

    Effective income support programs are necessary, but Canada STILL needs
child care.

For further information:

For further information: Jenny Robinson, (416) 938-2625

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