Dear Erin O’Toole: Your Tax Scheme Isn’t Child Care

Canadian women are at a breaking point. Nineteen months of this pandemic have left us overworked, poorer and tired.

We are exhausted by fear. We are exhausted by the uncertainty. We are exhausted from asking ourselves over and over again to bend, contort and stretch.

When did we lose our jobs because of the shutdown? We made it work.

When we were working on the front lines of the pandemic providing health care, child care and groceries? We made it work.

When did our school and childcare arrangements become a recurring affair? We made it work.

We sacrificed income, careers, promotions and hard-earned progress on gender equality.

And now, days away from a federal election, we are done making it work. We have the choice to elect a government that can deliver on the historic commitment announced in the 2021 federal budget and give us the universal child care system we need – and can manage.

Mr. O’Toole: With regard to child care, you are 50 years behind in the policy discussion. So pull out your re-entry pencil and start taking notes. This editorial is for you.

Lesson # 1: Your tax scheme is not child custody.

We don’t need your little discount that you think will fill the gaps and end our race for child care. We need the federal government to work with provincial and territorial governments to provide us with quality child care that meets our needs – regulated and safe. We need the price we pay for child care to be reduced and capped. Your diet cancels out spaces. This lets the costs go up. You pat us on the head and tell us not to worry, your tax credit will stimulate the market to provide us with what we need. But for 50 years the market has fallen short, especially for those who work non-standard hours or have children with special care needs. And our costs to parents have increased faster than inflation.

Lesson 2: Your tax system keeps women poorer and holds them back.

Good care is not cheap, and cheap care is not good. Your tax scheme pits the economic interests of working mothers against those of educators. This forces parents to seek out the cheapest care available. Salaries account for most of the cost of child care, and as long as parents’ fees are the main source of funding, the unaffordable nature of child care will continue to keep salaries at or near minimum wage. .

Lesson 3: Your tax scheme will curb economic growth.

Women are leaving the workforce at a time when the Canadian economy needs them more than ever. A quality, affordable and accessible child care system is key to our recovery. It creates jobs. It stimulates growth. It increases income. It decreases poverty. A tax system does not.

Lesson # 4: Your tax ploy cuts federal child care spending by 91%.

It is not a typo. The Liberals plan to spend almost $ 30 billion over five years on child care, while your own party estimates that the Conservative tax credit will cost $ 2.6 billion over the same period. Given the consensus that women’s work is the key to economic recovery, cutting your tax system by 91% on child care spending shows how little you think of us.

But you know the limits of your child care tax credit. You told the Premier of Quebec that you love the province’s universal child care system so much that you would be prepared to fund it. You would give Quebec what you are proposing to take away from the rest of Canada – what does that mean, Mr. O’Toole?

Here is the question from the September 20 ballot box: Will we recognize and support each other in a future that invests in women, children, families and the economy? Or are we going to contort and convince ourselves that we can “make it work” when a $ 30 billion investment in early learning and child care is canceled and replaced by a tax scheme?

We have been here before and no one can afford to repeat itself when it comes to child care. In 2006, the Conservative Party formed a minority government and immediately canceled Paul Martin’s Liberal child care plan.

Now that we are once again so close to making child care a reality, we cannot let Canada back down. Vote for a government that can deliver on the promise of a universal, quality child care system for all. Vote for exhausted moms. Also vote for all exhausted parents and grandparents. Vote for all of us.

Morna Ballantyne is a mother, grandmother and Executive Director of Child Care Now, the national association for child care advocacy in Canada.

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