The Standing Committee on Finance Recommends Implementation of a National Child Care Plan

The Standing Committee on Finance presented its report to the House of Commons on December 9th, 2009. The report entitled ‘A Prosperous and Sustainable Future for Canada: Needed Federal Actions’ reflects the findings from the pre-budget hearings that the Committee held across the country in the fall. The report summarizes the presentations that the Committee heard on child care and includes an accompanying recommendation for implementation of a National Child Care Plan.

A full copy of the report is available for download Click here.

Excerpts from the Standing Committee on Finance Report
A. Child Care
The Committee’s witnesses provided a range of views about child care: what exists and what is needed. Some argued for a “re-imagining” of the federal role with respect to child care. According to a number of witnesses, the market has failed to supply accessible and affordable child care: wait lists are long, fees are high and wages in the sector are low. Additionally, witnesses noted that tax credit and benefit programs related to children do not oblige the recipient to purchase or provide child care, that a small proportion of the funds dedicated to child care have conditions attached and that the value of the monthly UCCB is less than the cost of child care.

In proposing changes related to child care, witnesses made a variety of suggestions: a national, universal child care strategy that would increase the number of child care spaces, with funds for both operating and capital costs; greater federal transfers to the provinces and territories that are conditional on the provinces and territories spending these funds on the provision of child care; and implementation of a Quebec-style child care model across the country.

Some witnesses noted the importance of providing funds directly to public and not-for-profit child care centres under any child care strategy, while others recommended that the government introduce a refundable tax credit, perhaps called the universal child benefit, that would pay an average full-time wage to the family for each child under the age of 18, for up to two or three children.

The Committee believes the often-repeated phrase that “children are our future.” Certainly, this reality is recognized by governments and by a variety of individuals, including parents and other family members, teachers and health care professionals, among many others. At the federal level, recognition of the importance of children and youth is provided through a number of tax and program spending measures that benefit them either directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, we feel that additional federal actions could—and should—be taken to support our children and youth, and thereby position them, their communities and the nation for a prosperous and sustainable future. For these reasons, the Committee recommends that:
The federal government, recognizing the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories as well as the need to compensate those provinces and territories that decide not to participate in a country-wide measure, implement a national child care plan providing high-quality, affordable and inclusive child care services. This goal should be achieved through federal transfer payments to participating provinces and territories, and the plan should include measurable targets and timelines.