Nanny State

The Government of Ontario has announced it will create 100,000 new daycare spots over the next five years. Am I the only one who has questions about that?

Daycare is always a sensitive election issue at the provincial and federal level in Canada. Politicians have learned that there are votes to be won by promising cheap places for parents to park their ‎children while they are at work. You would think there is a shortage of spaces.

There isn’t. What there is, is a shortage of subsidized spaces where the government picks up a chunk of the tab. strangely, daycare providers want to be paid a living wage for looking after other people’s children. Of course for many parents it would be cheaper to stay home with the kids rather than pay the full cost of caring for their children. The government subsidies allow them to have their cake and eat it too.

I don’t know when it was decided that it was the role of the state to raise children. I’ve always thought parents could do a better job at that than bureaucrats. That’s why I spent nine years at home looking after my offspring until they were in school, a very rewarding nine years.

Ontario has already seen the opening of many new subsidized daycare spots: they are called Kindergarten. Extending the education system to include four-year-olds would of course have had a negative impact on daycare providers, but parents were tickled pink at the government largesse that saved them money (on the surface anyway – they’ll still wind up paying for it in the long run as the province is running a deficit and adding to its record high public debt).

What we haven’t had in Canada is a real discussion about why we should have daycare, and why the government needs to fund it. Somehow I doubt we ever will. Questioning the nanny state would probably doom any politician brave enough to ask the question.

I’m open on the subject. We certainly chose the best path for our family, but my children are not your children. There are those parents who probably shouldn’t stay at home with their kids full time. There are some children who might benefit more from being in a structured environment with strangers watching over them. But where is the science?

I know studies have been done. I will confess I haven’t read them because they weren’t relevant to my situation. I do have the impression though that those in favour of parental care as opposed to daycare make a stronger case for that method.

Would government ever admit that? I wonder. Is genuine dialogue between proponents and opponents of state sponsored daycare even possible? Or are people entrenched in their position and unwilling to listen?

One thing I do know. With 100,000 new daycare spaces coming available in the next five years the governing Liberal party has done something to make the parents of the children in those spaces look favourably upon it. My guess is those people will vote overwhelmingly Liberal in the next provincial election.

That couldn’t be the purpose, could it? Or did you really think it is all about what is best for children?


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