Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Code blue for daycare

Please bear with me while I use this little soap-box of mine for a full-on rant about daycare.

As you know, I’ve been making a concerted effort for the last seven weeks to find acceptable daycare for my boys.

I have looked into:

* Private in-home care.
* Licensed in-home care.
* Nanny-sharing.
* Licensed daycare centre.
* School-age childcare program.

I have exchanged at least one e-mail or telephone call with sixteen potential care providers. I have interviewed four caregivers. I have applied to a centralized waiting list for licensed care in the city of Ottawa. I have applied to the waiting list for the daycare centre in my neighbourhood. I have spoken to or exchanged e-mails with three licensed agencies for home-care providers. I have added my boys’ names to the waiting list for the school-age after-school care program affiliated with their school for which Simon will not be eligible until the year 2010 when he is in Grade 1. I have spoken to two local elementary schools, hoping they might have some leads.

I still have nothing arranged. I have a few ‘maybes’, one of which is out of my price range, one of which make me feel like I am settling for ‘good enough’ when good enough isn’t nearly good enough for the treasure that is my boys, and one that has so many rules and conditions that I’m nervous to commit to them.

You know how long the waiting list is for the daycare centre in my neighbourhood? Three years. It’s much longer for me, someone who pays ‘full fees’, as opposed to someone who gets a subsidized spot, because they have roughly two subsidized spots for every full-fee spot. So the people willing and able to pay more wait longer. Not that I begrudge anyone their subsidized spot. I’d be happy enough to pay the fees, at $77 a day for both boys, but still can’t get a spot and won’t be able to for the foreseeable future.

One year after taking power, Canada’s New Government ™ has done nothing beyond placating parents with a monthly $100 placebo that pretends to be a meaningful commitment to improving access to child care. A monthly placebo that, as I previously mentioned, does not even cover the INCREASE in daycare fees that I can expect on a WEEKLY basis. And yes, those capital letters do mean I’m shouting, because I’ve worked myself up to a pretty good lather by this point.


When Stephen Harper’s Tories took office a year ago, they dismantled a $5 billion federal-provincial collaboration on child care. According to this article, federal funding for child care will plummet to $250M in the next fiscal year, from $1.2 billion.

That’s more than a 75% reduction, in a single year folks.

On the web site for the universal child care benefit, the $100/month pre-tax bribe payment that was part of Harper’s election campaign, there’s a widget that tells you to “Tell your family and friends about the choice, support and spaces provided by Canada's Universal Child Care Plan.” So that’s what I’m doing. I’m telling you that in my humble opinion, Canada's Universal Child Care Plan sucks eggs. The ‘system’ is broken.

Don’t believe me? Check out what the folks at Code Blue for Childcare, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting accessible, quality child care have to say. They recently gave the government a failing grade in child care on the first anniversary of the government coming in to power.

(Click through and you can add your name to the ‘report card’ if you agree.)

I have to say, I love this comment from the ‘report card’: “Stephen [Harper] has some trouble understanding basic concepts. His major term project, the Universal Child Care Plan, is not child care. It’s also not universal and not a plan.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Even if I find Mary Poppins tomorrow, and she’s willing to take care of my boys for the sheer bliss of their exquisite companionship, you’ll still be hearing more from me on this issue. It isn’t about one woman’s frustrating search for quality child care anymore.

It’s personal, and yet it’s so much more.