The lack of an affordable public child care program is the focus of NDP Education Critic Lorraine Michael’s questions in the House of Assembly this week. Michael (MHA, St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi) says half a century of royal commissions, task forces, and government white papers have recognized that closing the gender wage gap requires universal affordable child care.
“A gender-based analysis of the provincial budget would have shown that a child care program is an economic necessity for women,” Michael said.
Yesterday in Question Period, Michael asked why the supposedly gender-based budget did not result in a plan for a universal affordable public child care program.
“I ask the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, when will he act on the evidence that affordable, quality child care is good for the economy and working women, and start working towards a public universal child care plan?” she said.
Today, Michael says the much-touted new federal funding for child care is just throwing money at a patchwork system leaving most parents without access to affordable quality child care. “The province continues to buy into the subsidy mentality,” she said.
Specifically, the new eligibility cap for the subsidy – too low at $35,000 – will exclude many families living just above the poverty line who won’t be able to pay fees of at least $800 per child per month, Michael says.
Michael says a partial subsidy does not respond to the widespread need for affordable, quality child care recognized even by institutions such as the Bank of Canada. A plan for a universal child care program is what parents are looking for, she says.
“I ask the Minister, when will he make child care truly affordable by bringing it into a public education and early childhood development system for children of all ages?” said Michael.