Budget 2017 and "Child Care" Funding


$7 billion allotted to daycare spaces is not about the care of Canada’s children or helping parents.

March 22, 2017


OTTAWA – Today’s federal budget earmarks $7 billion for daycare spaces in the government’s 10-year social infrastructure fund. Of that total, “a portion” is expressly for Indigenous daycare.

The government is allocating $7 billion to child care over the next ten years starting in 2018-19. Next steps include the creation of a framework. But does that match what parents themselves have said they want or need?

“When subsidies go to child care spaces or centres, rather than directly to parents, these act as a form of soft coercion,” said Andrea Mrozek, program director for Cardus Family. “Rather than expanding options that increase the good for particular families, the government paints families into a corner by favouring one particular option.”

After the 2015 federal election, the Liberals followed through on their election promise of money for parents when they created the Canada Child Benefit, a $22 billion dollar commitment to Canadian families below particular income thresholds.

So why $7 billion for a child care framework the Liberals did not campaign on and Canadians did not ask for?

A report published by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth on February 6, 2017, explains. It identifies four target demographic groups for increased labour force participation. Two of the four target demographics are Indigenous Peoples and mothers of young children.

Today’s budget reflects the priority of increasing labour force participation in these demographics in order to increase the GDP. As stated in Budget 2017, the government’s aim is “greater career flexibility for parents of young children.” In short, this “child care measure” is about getting parents of young children—the time when children need their parents most—into the paid labour force.

So what have parents said they want?

When surveyed, seven in ten Canadian parents of children under six say having one parent at home to care for their child is the best option when contrasted with a competent caregiver. As for child care funding preferences, even in Quebec, where the beleaguered provincially-funded daycare system remains in place, 65% of Quebeckers believe child care funding should go directly to parents. Across Canada, an average of six in ten Canadians believe child care funding should go directly to parents. This funding puts parents, who have their children’s best interests at heart, in the driver’s seat.

And what does the social research tell us is best for children?

The Canadian desire to choose a parent or family member over institutional daycare for children under age six reflects best practices for children. Dr. Gordon Neufeld, pre-eminent Vancouver-based developmental psychologist, says this about the first six years of life for children: “By the fifth year of life, if everything is continuous and safe, then emotional intimacy begins…The first issue is always to establish strong, deep emotional connections with those who are raising you. And that should be our emphasis in society. If we did this, we would send our children to school late, not early.”

The $7 billion announced today is money Canadian parents, who choose not to use institutional daycare, will never see.

This attempt to coax the mothers of young children into the labour force also helps us to understand why one in two Canadian women feel that motherhood is not valued enough.

“Many Canadian parents of young children deliberately make tough choices so as to ensure that a parent can be home with young children,” said Mrozek. “This child care funding is an attempt to increase labour force participation. Canadian parents need to be aware of that.”


About Cardus

Cardus is a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S. To learn more, visit: www.cardus.ca and follow us on Twitter @cardusca.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613.241.4500 x.508

Topics: Family


Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.