We need child care spaces, not cheques

This week, the Conservative government began mailing out cheques for the expanded "Universal Child Care Benefit" (UCCB).

According to the government, the UCCB is “designed to help Canadian families… by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support.”

Meanwhile, the Minister in charge of cheques, Pierre Poilievre, has a different story when he tweets that the money is arriving just in time for back-to-school shopping.

He’s got a point. The cheques have little to do with child care. Here’s why:

  • A cheque in the mail is not the same thing as child care. Only 1 in 5 children in Canada who need child care have access to a regulated space. Monthly cheques don’t create quality child care spaces, and they don’t make them affordable.
  • Even with the benefit increase, the UCCB does little to make child care more affordable. Child care is the second highest household expense for Canadian families. Child care costs can range from $900 to $1800 per month per child. For parents who stay at home, the small amount doesn't offset their lost income.
  • A portion of this benefit will be taxed back come income tax time. With the abolition of the Child Tax Credit at the same time, this “benefit” will be substantially less than it appears.
  • According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, more than half of the recipients of the UCCB don’t have child care costs to begin with.
  • The UCCB was created when Harper first took office in 2006, after he abruptly cancelled the federal child care agreements with the provinces that would have created badly-needed quality child care spaces across Canada.

Instead of sending out cheques that do nothing to support child care, the government could invest in a national, affordable child care program. Public investment in a national child care system pays for itself, creating a more equal society and a more sustainable economy.

Poilievre says it’s “Christmas in July” for parents. There is little to celebrate when you don’t have access to safe and affordable care for your children. Instead, let’s vote for a better choice this October 19 so there will be something to celebrate.

For more information visit psacunion.ca/childcare.

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July 24, 2015
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