Saturday, May 12

Waiting games - Day-care spaces can't keep up with demand

Day-care spaces are at such a premium in Ottawa that finding suitable child care is one of the first things many parents turn their attention to as soon as they learn they are pregnant.

Just over a year after then-newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled the plug on the previous Liberal government's fledgling child-care deal with provinces, 11,800 children are on the central waiting list for spaces at regulated day-care centres in Ottawa. And the list keeps growing.

The Tories' mantra is "choice."

"When it comes to child care, the best role for the government is to trust parents and let them choose what's right for their children," says a government Web page on the subject.

To that end, the feds pay parents of children under the age of six $100 a month -- a baby bonus, really, that the government calls the Universal Child Care Benefit. Lately, it has taken to suggesting the taxable benefit might come in handy to pay for baby-sitting or to take the kids to a museum or to buy an educational DVD.

Child-care advocates say the system is in chaos. Provinces aren't sure what kind of long-term funding to expect from the federal government and there are no programs to track how many day-care spaces are being created. Instead, the Conservatives seem anxious for Canadian families to work things out for themselves.

LINK: Read entire article at the Ottawa Citizen

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