(LifeSiteNews) — “For a nation seemingly set on making people have babies, we sure don’t want to invest in them,” wrote Chicago family activist Heidi Stevens.
Andrea Mrozek, an Ottawa-based policy analyst with Cardus Family (a division of the faith-based think tank Cardus) writes in a July article in Toronto’s Catholic Register that this comment expresses the “real fears” that women who keep their babies rather than aborting them will receive no public help in caring for them.
Most often, notes Mrozek, such comments are decrying the lack of a comprehensive state child care system.
Those who say that in Canada, she points out, ignore the fact that the northern nation—with its generous family policies and a new federal child care plan—provides less of a economics-based “demand” for abortion. (And yet Quebec, the first province to adopt a heavily subsidized child care system, also reports the highest abortion rate in Canada.)
But although some of the calls for universal childcare systems that seem pro-life are simply a “smokescreen for ardent support of abortion,” Mrozek states that pro-lifers ought to heed such calls as an incentive to “work towards better [family] policy.” She argues that “to be against abortion, one must support babies and children and the families who take care of them.”
Mrozek is quick to add that such support for families need not mean support for state-run child care centres: she states that “it’s precisely because state-run child care doesn’t work that I seek out better options truly to support families, while simultaneously being against abortion.”
New proposals for family policies
Mrozek and her colleagues at Cardus Family are among a growing number of social conservative think-tanks and advocacy groups in both the United States and Canada that have been advancing new ideas for family policies.
Debates around family policies have been particularly intense in Canada following the release of the federal government’s Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan in early 2021 and its ratification by all the provinces in late March of this year. This five-year investment plan is a $30-billion initiative that would offer $10/day regulated child care spaces for children under age six.
The federal government and advocates of the universal, subsidized child care system claim that such a system gives families more money, boosts the development of young children, and “will pay for itself” by increased income and payroll taxes and by increased productivity from both parents being in the paid workforce.
A backgrounder from the department of finance, for example, states that the $30-billion plan “will help Canadian families afford the cost of living and ensure every child has the best start in life.”
The document further claims that the plan “will create new jobs and growth, and get parents— especially mothers—into the workforce” and thereby “raise the real GDP by as much as 1.2 per cent over the next two decades.”
But critics of the new child care plan say that it restricts parental choice, offers less-than-ideal care that can hinder child development, and is a disastrous cash trap for the government of a nation that, as of October 2020, has ranked first in deficit spending among developed countries.
Stop ‘violating free choice’ of parents
Although the government claims that their plan will help “a majority of young Canadian families. . .save thousands of dollars per year,” policy analysts point out that the government is only helping families who use regulated child care centres.
In fact, most parents in Canada provide care for their children or give them care by means that receive no help from the new plan, reveals a June report from Statistics Canada. Many Canadian parents care for their children themselves—interestingly, a form of care which Stats Can does not include in its list and can only be roughly calculated from the balance of other percentages.
Fourteen per cent of all children under six receive care from nannies or others (less than three per cent each) or from home-based child care (eight per cent).
During the pandemic, the number of children receiving care from adults other than their parents dropped by eight per cent (from 2019 to 2022). Now only 31 per cent of all Canadian children under age 6 are cared for in licensed daycares and preschools.
Cardus is calling the federal government to provide “equal funding for all families regardless of care type” and stop “violating the principle of free choice without discrimination.” Its Cardus Family research group published these calls in a lengthy collaborative document drafted with child care specialists, academics, parents, NGOs and others entitled A Positive Vision for Child Care Policy Across Canada. The document is supported by a wide range of signatories.
Levi Minderhoud, BC Manager of the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada, likewise writes (in a February press release) that the approach of the BC government to fund child care centres “discriminates against families who choose not to use licensed child care.”
Minderhoud, in recent posts about child care, argues that parents have been entrusted by God with a “non-transferable . . . personal responsibility to choose and direct how best to care for their children,” just as citizens have a personal responsibility to vote.
Family more significant than childcare
Does research prove that child care always makes young children more ready for school and more likely to succeed later in life, as proponents claim?
No, say prominent economists, psychologists, and policy analysts.
Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, in an interview published by the Archbridge Institute, states, “The family is the source of life and growth. . .No public preschool program can provide the environments and the parental love and care of a functioning family and the lifetime benefits that ensue.”
Psychologist Jay Belsky, who participated in the $150-million US NICHD child-care study, writes in her jointly-authored monograph The Origins of You (2020) that “the kind of family that a child grew up in proved to be much more developmentally significant than his or her day-care experience.”
A large childcare chain in the United States just fired a faithful Christian caretaker for refusing to read LGBT propaganda to children.
As reported on LifeSiteNews, Bright Horizons Children’s Center in California terminated the contract of Nelli Parisenkova for not reading LGBT-themed books to children as young as 1 year-old.
Parisenkova, a devout Christian who worked for the company for four years, requested to not read the books because they violated her deeply held religious beliefs.
Instead of tolerating Nelli’s Christian faith, Bright Horizons demanded she 'celebrate diversity' or leave. After refusing to comply with this unjust ultimatum, Parisenkova’s boss expelled her from the building, which forced her to walk 20 minutes in 96-degree heat to the bus stop where she had to wait another 45 minutes.
Parisenkova is now suing Bright Horizons Children’s Center for violating her religious freedom, and she needs your help to raise public awareness about this assault on her human rights.
Sign this petition today to tell Nelli Parisenkova that you stand with her and her Christian faith against the LGBT agenda being pushed by Bright Horizon’s Children’s Center.
Bright Horizons thinks it can bully devout Christians like Nelli into submitting to their leftist ideology. Do not let them get away with it! We all must take a stand to ensure these attacks on our shared Christian faith come to an end. Here are the plain and simple facts:
- No child should be brainwashed to believe that marriage is between two men or two women.
- No child should be told that boys can become girls, or that girls can become boys.
- No child should be indoctrinated with the erroneous belief there are more than two genders, or that people can choose their gender identity.
This is not education. This is propaganda.
Nelli Parisenkova was RIGHT to protect children from LGBT indoctrination and she was RIGHT to invoke her Christian faith in doing so.
SIGN THIS PETITION NOW to tell her she is not alone in this fight!
Quebec model producing lasting negative effects
Economists Vincent Geloso and Ben Eisen, both senior fellows at the Fraser Institute (FI), write in a 2017 FI report that while high-quality child care can help children in difficult circumstances (such as the Perry Preschool Project did with low-income children in Michigan in the 1960s), child care can also bring long-lived disadvantages to children.
Those disadvantages have been found among children who received care under Quebec’s universal, subsidized child care program begun in the 1990s—the model for the new Canada-wide plan.
A peer-reviewed study by economists Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber, and Kevin Milligan in 2019 reports a “sizeable negative shock to noncognitive outcomes arising with the introduction of universal child care in Quebec.”
These economists continued their research of 2005 to conclude that these negative, non-cognitive effects of universal child care (such as aggression among boys and, among girls, lower pro-social behaviours) “persisted to school ages” and, later, led to worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates.
Cardus Family, in a report on the Quebec model of universal child care, notes that another economist, Steven Lehrer, decided to test these findings, expecting opposite results. Instead, Lehrer concluded that the work of Baker, Gruber and Milligan “is 100 per cent correct. It’s robust.”
The Cardus Family report claims that one problem is that “‘quality’ is not clearly or consistently defined in child care literature, and the measurement of quality is biased toward institutional, state settings.” The report adds that child care by parents and relatives “may be exemplary, but it cannot easily be measured.”
Before investing billions of dollars into universal child care, the federal government “must study the evidence on the current quality of all care versus the current quality of care in the Quebec model that it seeks to emulate,” the report advises.
Andrea Mrozek, (in an article in the alternative Canadian news source The Line), writes that Cardus Family research has found that Quebec has “the worst legal ratios in the country with one adult for five infants” and, “worse still. . . one adult for eight toddlers.”
“The very model the federal government points to as its model for universal child care has the worst quality adult-child ratios in Canada,” notes Mrozek.
Will the plan ‘pay for itself’?
What about the cost of subsidized universal daycare in Canada? Will the system indeed “pay for itself,” as the federal government and advocates of the system insist?
That debate has featured most prominently Geloso and Eisen, whose views contrast with those of Pierre Fortin, an economist at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQUAM). In their 2017 FI report, Geloso and Eisen argue that Quebec’s child care program was “flawed.” They claim the surge of women into the workforce in Quebec in the 1990s came from federal incentives to employment in Quebec as well as the provincial government’s introduction of universal low-cost child care. These factors make that surge “impossible to replicate” for the rest of Canada.
The report also claims that the swell of women into the workforce in Quebec recovered only 40 per cent of the cost for subsidized daycare by increased tax revenue.
Fortin, in a lengthy counter-report, defends his research against the critiques of Geloso and Eisen. Fortin claims that for every dollar spent on child care by the provincial government, the federal and provincial governments reap benefits totaling $1.75.
Cardus Family, in another report, points to estimates from advocates for universal child care to show that the system is likely to cost much more money than it will generate. Cardus notes that between 1997 and 2010, the cost of Quebec’s system rose 562 per cent, with spaces increasing only 156 per cent.
Cardus points out, from Fortin’s research, that even with such a high investment from the Quebec government, only one third of Quebec children in child care can access the spaces deemed to be higher quality.
Did Quebec families truly benefit from subsidized daycare? Mrozek notes that 72 per cent of families received less financial assistance from the Quebec government after the creation of their child care system than they did before.
What happens after five years?
And what happens to child care in Canada after the five-year plan ends?
Mrozek notes that while many Canadians believe that the goal of the new Canada-wide system is to create spaces in child care centres, the truth is that “the federal program focuses primarily on reducing costs in existing licensed spaces.” She says these child care centres serve—now and in the next five years—only “a very small portion of Canada’s estimated 2.2 million children under the age of six.”
In terms of finances, Mrozek points out that the federal government has not committed to building a system, but to funding provinces “for an insufficient number of spaces over the next five years.”
At that point, writes Mrozek, the federal plan will “boil down to leaving a hot mess for the provinces to clean up down the road when federal funding has been proven to be wholly inadequate.”
Child care should be ‘care of the child’
For government to seek a higher GDP from the paid work of parents of young children misses the point, says another critic of the new government plan. William Watson, another senior fellow at the FI, points out that “an economy is for producing well-being, not GDP or tax revenue.”
Cardus Family and its partners (in a summary of their lengthy Vision paper) states that child care policy must be defined as “care of the child,” not a means to increase the GDP or to promote gender equity.
Cardus Family and its partners call on government to “remove child care policy from policies pertaining to GDP enhancement and place it squarely in the domain of family policy” so that child care policy “will serve families, not the other way around.”
Many parental voices dismissed
Cardus and others claim that the voices of many parents have been dismissed in the pursuit of universal child care.
A March 2021 Angus Reid Institute poll, which was conducted in partnership with Cardus, finds 78 per cent of Canadian parents of children under age six–of all income levels, genders and provinces–believe it is best for small children to be at home with a parent.
In this poll, 67 per cent of parents with children under age six agree with the statement, “If I could afford to, I’d rather stay home until my kids go to grade school.”
What policies could help Canadian families with young children better than universal child care?
Geloso, in a written debate published in Alberta Views in April, proposes the following:
- Remove heavy regulatory burdens unrelated to the actual quality of child care
- Reduce income taxes, especially for lower-income groups—a move that would have the same effect as subsidies for child care
- Open doors for educational entrepreneurs
- Target financial help to lower-income households
Policies recommended by Cardus Family and its partners include:
- Let funding follow the child (allow parents to choose the form of care).
- Increase Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payments to parents for children under six.
- Begin CCB payments during pregnancy, when expenses increase.
- Tax families rather than individuals (to help families where one parent cares for the children).
- Make the child care expense deduction a refundable tax credit scaled to income, with no cap (to help low-income families).
- Parental leaves should be longer, easier to access, and allow parents on leave to work more hours without losing benefits.
- Stop unnecessary discrimination against private child care–often the most popular choice for parents.