Supporting a Greater Variety of Childcare Options for Canadians

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, this debate actually gives us an opportunity to discuss in a reasonable way, and in low decibels, what we want for our children. I really think this is a good opportunity, so I am going to be very personal in sharing that it is important that we, as members of Parliament, recognize that one size does not fit all. Canadian parents will make different decisions for their kids.

This is going to sound odd, perhaps, but I was blessed that I did not qualify for child care or maternity leave. At the time my daughter was born, I was employed on a part-time contract with an environmental organization, and my work there was essential for the organization and also for my own state of well-being. Because I was working for a relatively small charity, I was able to organize workplace child care. The benefits for me personally were enormous. I was with my daughter every single day for the first three years of her life. I was able to arrange for her to get the benefits, and there is no question that there are benefits for children in early childhood education. She gathered with other children from the time she was about two years old in little play groups and things, and early childhood education was available.

I suggest to my friend that there is too much emphasis on the dogma around state-run child care. The state needs to provide, and we need, as a critical issue, more child care spaces available for Canadian parents. Both parents are, increasingly, in the workforce. I would ask all members to consider whether we can do more to organize child care, however conceived, so that it is in the workplace so that one or the other parent, throughout the day, can be there for their child.

Garnett Genuis – Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, although I do not agree with my friend from the Green Party on everything, she makes a very good point about the benefits of having workplace child care available. Again, different families make different choices, but the option of going to work and knowing that one’s child is getting care within the same building, perhaps, or very close by, a lot of parents would find very attractive.

What is unfortunate about budget 2017 is that it would eliminate a tax credit for employers who invest in the infrastructure necessary to put in workplace child care. Workplace child care was emphasized by the previous government. It said it would provide a tax credit to employers who wanted to facilitate the development of workplace child care on site. We were not going to micromanage it, but we were going to give a tax credit to employers who wanted to provide it as a benefit. I think many employers would want to provide it, perhaps as a recruitment or retention tool but also to reflect the interests and desires of their employees.

This was in place, and the Liberal government, much on talk when it comes to women’s issues and feminism, cancelled this tax credit in budget 2017, further reducing and limiting choices not just between staying at home versus child care but between different child care options people might want to pursue.