Volume 96, Issue 59
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

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Feds may boost childcare funding in upcoming budget

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Daycare spending is expected to be a large part of the upcoming federal government budget in February. The Liberal government is expected to set aside more than $1 billion to assist daycare and low-income families with children.

Roderic Beaujot, a Western sociology professor, said a national childcare program can not be initiated by the federal government because daycare is a provincial responsibility.

"The difficulties are always in structuring how money flows from the federal government to the provinces," he said, adding the federal government can help only in terms of funding.

"[There is the] possibility of some defined transfers," Beaujot said, citing specific money for machines at a hospital as an example.

Daycare money is used in two ways in Canada, with the first being the construction of centres that benefit all citizens, and the second being the actual use of daycare centres, which involves the subsidizing of individuals, Beaujot explained.

"It's easier for the [federal government] to pass money to young families and children through the child tax benefit," Beaujot said, adding the tax benefit, which provides tax relief to families with children, has seen an increase over the years.

However, Beaujot feels the tax benefit should be expanded. In order to receive the maximum benefit, an income of under $30,000 a year is currently required, he explained.

"I think [the expected money] is fabulous," said Nicole Nelson, University Students' Council VP-campus issues. European countries have long recognized the importance of childcare, she said, adding she is glad Canada is on the right track.

When it comes to spending money on childcare, Ontario's record is poor, Nelson stated, noting the previous $300 million federal subsidy for daycare was spent in other areas.

"It's not about babysitting – it's about educating youth," she explained. Current legislation fails students, Nelson said, adding students can only claim class time – not study time – and student loans count as income against subsidies.

"The money is needed. There have been a lot of cutbacks," said Jill Arthur, executive director of Western Day Care.

"We've been promised this money from the Liberal government for years," Arthur said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE