OTTAWA, March 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Putting economic growth at the forefront, the Trudeau government’s 2017 budget projects $7 billion in spending over the next 10 years to create new institutional daycare spaces in a move one faith-based critic called “soft coercion.”
The measure would only make 40,000 new spaces by 2019, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is up for re-election. After that, the yearly allotment would increase from $550 million to $800 million. One news report said the timing of implementation was like dangling a carrot on a stick in front of the electorate.
Andrea Mrozek, director of family programs for Cardus, a Christian think tank, told LifeSiteNews, “We see it as a soft coercion, intended to get a particular demographic into the labour force — mothers of young children.”
Cardus notes that the Liberals did not promise to create more daycare spaces in their 2015 election campaign. The think tank attributes the costly new commitment to a report from a recent report pinning economic growth to an enlarged workforce. It specifically targeted the need for young mothers.
“In short,” Cardus stated in a news release, “this ‘childcare measure’ is about getting parents of young children – at the time when children need their parents most — into the paid labor force.”
“This isn’t what anybody wanted outside the daycare lobby,” Mrozek said. Parents would have preferred an increase in the childcare credit, she said. This would have left parenting choices to them.
Gwen Landolt, the president of REAL Women of Canada, agreed. “Why can’t Trudeau treat women as if they are intelligent human beings who can decide for themselves how to care for their children?”
“This doesn’t help women who decide to stay home. It doesn’t help unskilled women on low incomes who can’t re-enter the workforce easily,” she told LifeSiteNews. “It only helps women in the upper third income bracket, women in Trudeau’s own particular circle of experience.”
Mrozek argues that parents prefer that one stay home with the child during the formative years. A 2013 study by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada showed about three quarters of Canadians across all incomes, work arrangements, provinces and ages preferred one parent to stay home with children under six years old.
She also cited Vancouver child psychologist Gordon Neufeld testifying how crucial the preschool years are to forming the capacity to “establish deep, emotional connections. … By the fifth year of life, if everything is continuous and safe, then emotional intimacy begins,” Neufeld said.
Neufeld also disputes the view that daycare teaches children to “socialize.” On the contrary, in their early years, children need to learn to socialize by interacting with close and caring adults.
“Premature socialization,” according to Dr. Neufeld, “was always considered by developmentalists to be the greatest sin in raising children … [w]hen you put children together prematurely before they can hold on to themselves, then they become like [the others] and it crushes the individuality rather than hones it.”
Mrozek took a more favorable view of another budget measure allowing parental leave to expand from 12 to 18 months after birth. In addition, expecting mothers will be able to claim maternal leave up to 12 weeks before their due date. Previously, they could claim it for only eight weeks. However, there is no extra money for either extension. Instead, the payments will decrease proportionally for a cost-neutral effect.
For some families, the extension could make sense, said Mrozek. Because of the added flexibility it provides parents, “We’re largely in favor of it.”
The budget also extends existing tax benefits for those seeking artificial fertility treatment to those who are not actually infertile — single women and same-sex couples. The benefit will apply to expenditures made over the past 10 years.
In addition, the budget provides $9.6 million over five years to preparing Canada for the legalization of marijuana. The money will go to with public education and “surveillance” of existing use of the drug by people with medical reasons to take it.