I’ve just finished reading Ghost Map–the story of Dr. John Snow, father of epidimiology. It was he who discovered cholera to be a water-borne disease in England in the mid 1800s. The Broad Street pump was a critical part of this equation–there was cholera in that well, however it took years and years to figure this out, and actually Dr. Snow went to his grave with no one listening to him. So many dead, and years later, it was agreed that he was right–and today we live (largely) cholera-free due to modern sewage systems and a greater understanding of disease.
I bring this up because in the child care debate in Canada, there are a couple of key figures. Dr. Fraser Mustard is one of them. In listening to him talk at an IRPP conference back in April, he said instituting better early learning and child care programs across Canada would be something akin to discovering the problems with the Broad Street Pump. I’m paraphrasing, but the idea was that if we would only create better early learning and child care systems–we would avoid those thousands of “dying children.” The death in this day and age is mostly figurative, but if we had those child care programs–we would avoid billions of dollars wasted in our criminal system, in other societal costs. Just as discovering cholera in the water of the Broad Street pump could have avoided the thousands upon thousands who died.
Whether you are for or against universal child care systems in Canada, I think we can all reasonably see that a universal and publicly-funded child care system could not possibly be such a panacea. I rarely write about such things for PWPL because that belongs to the dayjob realm.
But our own Rebecca writes about this in the Edmonton Sun today and given that I like to show off for the PWPL team–I must highlight her work. And from New Zealand also today, some critical commentary on a child care report which suggests Broad Street implications the result “early learning and child care” programs.
Honestly–I understand we can agree to disagree on elements of child care, but Broad Street pump comparisons are unconscionably dishonest.
Tanya touts Rebecca’s article: As the article points out, this $7/ day daycare (called CPE or ‘centres de la petite enfance’) is not reserved for those who could not otherwise afford childcare. There are also limited spaces. The result: those families with no financial option but to have both parents return to work often don’t get a space in a CPE.
Private daycare in this province is comparatively cheaper, still, than in Ontario. I’ve gaged the average here to be about $20/ day. Services are essentially the same as CPE’s. One difference: you must bring your child to a CPE 5 days a week.
Regardless what you pay for childcare in Quebec, it’s all a deduction on your year end, provincial income tax return (yes, we have one of those here). That tax deduction applies to daycares, babysitters, nannies, summer/holiday camps, and preschools. It also applies to ‘wraparound’ care offered by elementary schools. You can get up to 75% of childcare fees back. Add the $100/ month Universal Child Care Benefit to the mix, and some parents have turned sending their children to daycare a profitable business.
This explains the many families where dad goes to work, Junior goes to daycare, and mom goes to the grocery store, or the spa, or what have you.
Our daycare system is part of our cultural fiber. Ever hear how mentalities in Quebec are so very different from the rest of Canada? On the ‘having a family’ front, we definitely have a different flavour in this province. When I lived in Ontario, the question, “Will you be staying home with her?” was posed. In Quebec they don’t ask that. They ask, “Have you put her name on a CPE waiting list yet?” We’d get to watch this mentality projected on the entire Nation, were it to adopt Quebec’s model as a federal child-care policy.