Free Essay On The Politics, Power, And Influence Of Canada
Canada has a history since the 1980’s of an aggressive welfare program supporting families with children. The introduction of the Liberal party to Quebec government resulted in a continuous process of altering the child care system in that province from a focus on community support to one of a market-based, for-profit business system. A comparison of the results of the two ideologies is centered on an article by Jane Jensen.
Jane Jensen wrote a chapter for UIUUUI titled “Rolling Out or Backtracking on Quebec’s Child Care System? Ideology Matters”. It concerns changes in Quebec’s child care system. In it, she discusses the success of the initiatives implemented in 1997. Statistics show a significant increase in the numbers of women in Quebec entering the workforce at that time. The province had been struggling with the issue since 1976, but was current with the rest of Canada by 1999. The issue of child care costs became a political topic as the elections loomed. Although the Liberals promised legislation addressing the need for subsidies and the creation of additional spots for children, when Jean Charest became Premier in 2003 the price of child care rose from $5 to $7 per day as part of a wider campaign of restructuring.
Three gauges of Quebec governmental policies include ideas, rational thinking, and tangible consequences to policies. Ideology is seen in the Parental Wage Assistance Program of 1988 which boosted wages for families with children in addition to a $100 benefit for child care; the idea was to bring more women into the workforce. Although an upward trend of women working outside the homes resulted, Canadian citizens became disgruntled with continuing high numbers of unemployed. In 1995, a renovated family assistance program with new services such as extensions of preschool education attempted to take children from social assistance.
Addressing the premise that early childhood development was threatened by poverty and related deprivations. A summit held in Quebec in 1996 resulted in a revision of the policies addressing the family. Assailed by demands for lower tuition by students and a redefinition of poverty from the concept of being a deficit, an alliance formed of groups working together for policy revision to assist families with children. Reform required addressing not just bringing women into the workforce, but providing new jobs for their employment opportunities. The solution to poverty was employment. In addition, child care needed quality in addition to accessibility. The training of future laborers is dependent on optimum early child development. Nonprofit child care had been the focus of price increases, and the general consensus was to eliminate for-profit centers completely. However, investigation revealed an inadequate supply of nonprofit space, so for-profit child care was allowed to continue, bolstered by government subsidies. The new system proved to be popular with parents. Increased placements in Quebec soon accounted for two of the spaces for every five children.
An interesting development was that over half the created spaces were in home-based care under the supervision of a child care center employee. Also, for-profit centers rose to almost 30 percent between 2003 and 2005. The support for for-profit child care centers was based on the realization that a new one could open in approximately one year while a nonprofit required closer to two years; the delay for nonprofit development was based in the requirement of creating a board of directors consisting of parents and volunteers.
The government contended that quality child care should be offered for all children regardless of need based on parental employment or involvement in obtaining a higher education. This was in direct reaction to the wishes of Canadian citizens. However, the cost of child care required one parent to stay in the home with the children. This decreased the income of the family, resulting in a lower standard of living for both the parents and the children. Regardless, the idea expressed in the 1997 initiatives of societal responsibility for children waned. Instead, government became more involved in providing for early childhood development with commercial centers taking some of the influence with quality, albeit more expensive, training. The focus of the paper by Jensen was governmental “backtracking” manifested in a return to support for commercial child care and renewal of the context of day care being needed primarily for working parents. Jensen is of the opinion that issues in the public spotlight were handled with compromises while the values of the system were being eroded by actions receiving less attention. These more subtle changes included allowing increasing numbers of for-profit centers to open with government subsidies. Apparently the claims by for-profit centers that provision by their sector was less expensive with the same quality were fallacious. A report on the quality of care for all types of child care found 34 percent of the for-profit centers delivered inadequate care compared with 7 percent for nonprofit centers and 8 percent for home-based providers.
In a second action of retreating to previous views, support for the community sector was reduced. Previously, when society at large was perceived to be responsible for child development, the endorsement of nonprofit centers allowed for employment by women who previously stayed at home. By bringing for-profit centers increasingly to the forefront, touted savings were in the form of elimination of the jobs created for women in the nonprofits centers.
Therefore, the 2005 legislature changed the idea of community-supported child care. The terminology was changed from “educational services for children” to “educational child care”. This indicated a shift back to child care for working parents rather than the universal care previously. For-profit child care centers became equal entities in governmental child care provision. Family day care became supervised by one of 163 agencies focused more on adherence to regulations and distributing information than early childhood education, and the 2006 budget allowed additional funding only for drop-in centers.
When legislation was proposed in 2005, opposition included trade unions, the AQCPE (the main organization for nonprofit centers), the PQ, and the sector for social economy. The only entities supporting the legislation were the business sector and a group representing about 100 CPEs. Although some concessions were made, one issue slipped through from lack of attention: one license could be used for a string of centers, promoting franchises of for-profit child care. This gave for-profit centers the ability to increase the number of facilities and the number of available spots over those of the non-profit centers.
A second study confirmed the findings of the first; for-profit child care centers provided the least education and lowest standards of care. Focus of the government had shifted from universal child care dedicated to education and early childhood development to cost-savings, providing flexible forms of child care for parents, and promoting the development of for-profit centers to provide a sufficient number of spaces. In conclusion, Jensen states that post-neoliberals have obtained influence through strategies goals in opposition to ideologies of family benefits. She feels that an active and verbal coalition for various social movements can halt government actions detrimental to Canadian society.
Article’s relationship to Child Care Policies
Liew (2013) discusses a longitudinal study concerning the child care policies of Quebec and Ontario. Significant improvement is evident from the period between the 1990’s to today. Unlike Jensen, Liew views governmental actions as creating a harmony between for-profit, nonprofit, and home-based child care systems. “These changes marked a break from past systems that featured multiple departments working separately for the promotion of children welfare without any manifest order and consistency within the systems” (Liew). The belief is that resources are combined to provide opportunities for improved education, nutrition, and health through a trickle-down effect.
A working paper by Baker, Gruber and Milligan (2005) analyzed the factors in Canadian child care and found the changes brought about by focus on universal child care effected women who were employed prior to the changes with informal child care arrangements. Although the influence on labor supply is significant, Baker et al. confirms the findings of previous studies that the quality of current child care is so poor that children fare much worse on measurements of aggression, motor and social skills, and illness. The report states, “ . . . we uncover striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions” (Baker et al) There is evidence of inconsistent parenting, hostility and illness in parents, and decreased relationships. These findings were collaborated by a working paper submitted in 2013 (Kottelenberg and Lehrer). The reports states, “ . . . most of the negative impacts reported in earlier research are driven by children from families who only attended childcare in response to the implementation of this policy”. The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care states that Quebec is the only example of “ . . . a universal ‘fund the program’ option . . . that exemplifies the provision of a comprehensive system of accessible, affordable, high quality care to the province’s families” (The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care).
A report titled “Quebec’s family policies benefit childbearing and work” issued by Western University in London shows policies have promoted acceptance of child care, increased the number of women in the workforce, and increased fertility rates. However, it mildly agrees with findings that evaluation of children “have not progressed as positively in Quebec when compared to the rest of Canada” (Western University). The implication is that universal child care programs lack the ability to focus on the disadvantaged children the programs were originally designed to help.
Bill C-303 is currently in committee to extend funding of the decade-old system of government subsidized child care in Quebec (Kozhaya). Ottawa has expressed some reservations, however, in the face of mediocre care, limited choices, and higher price tags. “One of the few extensive studies on the quality of Quebec child-care facilities reported (the program) . . . does not ensure high quality” (Kozhaya). The $7 per day cost to parents has tens of thousands of children on waiting lists for a spot. However, more than 58 percent of the children in subsidized care in Quebec live in homes with incomes over $60,000 annually. Collective bargaining by unionized workers has resulted in more labor disputes; more than one-third of the employees at community child care centers belong to a union.
A report on child care in Quebec in 2011 presented by l'Institut de la Statistique du Québec (ISQ) surveyed families with children under the age of five and found that use of subsidized child care increases with income (Turgeon). Turgeon postulates three reasons by lower-income families use the subsidized care less. First, parents living in poorer areas state their main reason for not using the care is a desire to stay home with their children and resisted efforts to send their children to outside care. There are also less spots available for children in low-income areas. The third reason is that low-income laborers are more likely to work hours when day care centers are not open. There are no indications the government is planning to address these factors.
The people of Quebec needed affordable, quality care for their children if they worked outside the home. Government wanted women to leave the home and enter the workforce, so caps on day care costs were put on non-profit centers and home-based care options. The idea of universal child care was a program to prepare children as future Canadian citizens with nutrition and education. This would also allow both parents to hold jobs, increasing the income for the family. However, the concept has degenerated back into child care only be for some working parents with lack of subsidized care for middle- and low-income families.
The previous concept of “It takes a village to raise a child” of societal responsibility in the 1980’s may have resulted in less women in the workforce and a lower income for the family, but the children may have been benefited more from being raised in the home. Multiple studies show outcomes for early childhood development drifted from education to cost-savings for child care for working parents. In addition, women who entered the workplace suffered from increased stress when employment was added to household responsibility of child bearing and maintaining the home. Yet, Canada hails Quebec child care system as a success and legislation is in the process of being created to implement it nationally. While encouragement of for-profit child care centers cannot carry all the blame for allegations of poor outcomes, a reversion to primarily home-based and nonprofit care may warrant a second look.
Baker, Michael, Jonathan Gruber, and Kevin Milligan. “Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor
Supply, And Family Well-Being. (2005): n. pag. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
Kottelenberg, Michael J., and Steven F. Lehrer. “New Evidence On The Impacts Of Access To
And Attending Universal Child-Care In Canada”. Canadian Public Policy 39.2 (2013):
Kozhaya, Norma. ”Quebec's Failed Child-Care Model”. Nationalpost.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 20
Liew, Caroline. “Quebec And Ontario Childcare Policies By Caroline_Liew”. StudyMode. N.p.,
2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care,. 'Quebec'. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Turgeon, Luc. 'Quebec’S Child Care Program And Low-Income Families | Child Care Canada'.
Childcarecanada.org. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Western University. Population Change And Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster. London:
Centre for Population, Aging and Health, 2013. Print.
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