Should We Have Universal Childcare in Nova Scotia?

As a parent who has just sent off our two boys to daycare, I was very interested to hear this story on CBC Information Morning today. It was about the cost of child care and how hard it is for parents today to actually pay for it.

So is the answer universal child care in Nova Scotia that makes this vital service accessible for all?

That is what Heather Avery thinks.

If you listen to the audio, we are living this exact story right now. We are basically working to pay for child care. A huge percentage of our monthly budget is now being spent on child care while we both work.

The cost is higher than our mortgage and some days has us questioning why both of us are actually working. Maybe it is cheaper for one parent to stay home?

This is backwards. Not only do the children benefit from being out of the home and learning social skills. But a parent who has the skills to work and wants to work, should be able to do so without just handing their whole pay cheque away each month.

What do parents do who can’t afford $35-40 per day, per child? They get family members to help out or they simply stay home.

The radio interview also touches on how child care workers are drastically underpaid and how child care should be viewed as part of the education system. I agree with Heather when she says the term “daycare” is just wrong. The men and women who look after our kids all day are trained professionals, not babysitters. Why not call it early education or something that sounds less demeaning.

I understand the other side of the story. Why should we have universal daycare? Is that not just asking for a hand out from the Government? What about those who don’t have kids and choose not to have kids. Why should they fund it?

Well if you do the research of where your tax dollars go, I am sure you will find several things on the list that you don’t feel you should pay for.

As the interview states, if parents don’t have to spend so much on child care, they can put that money into the economy, reduce debt and most importantly, be a part of the work force instead of letting talent sit on the sidelines.

I also can appreciate what Heather said about a parent who does take time to stay home. If that parent stays home for four years until their child is ready for school, how can that parent reenter the work force? They don’t have the skills anymore and a big hole on their resume that employers view as bad. Yep, taking care of kids is not considered working.

In Nova Scotia, why can’t children start organized school sooner? If we were living in Ontario, our son would be starting junior kindergarten.

Instead, here, he is still at daycare. He is ready for real school. He is practically reading. But instead in my opinion he is being left behind another year based on where he lives.

The story also talks about waiting lists and how hard it actually is to get into a quality daycare. We have been lucky to date. We have found spots when needed but there are facilities that have waiting lists that are years long. Years?

Canada is great in terms of helping out parents with a year of maternity or paternity leave. I am certainly not complaining.

But, as the leave ends and you having been living on less income, you instantly go to very high child care prices. How can you live?

For four to five years for each child, you are either not working and bringing in no money, or you are paying for child care and going deeper and deeper into debt.

I think child care is the best option for our kids. I admit, I would love to stay home with them. But that is not the best option for our family. We need two incomes. We need our kids to learn to be social and what is like to go to school.

It is a very frustrating topic and one that is not discussed by politicians at all.

Like the story mentioned, there are so many parents in this situation, that if it became a platform topic, it would drive people to vote with a particular party.

I don’t think parents want a free handout and want government to fully subsidize child care, but a bigger percentage would go a long way.

I don’t think enough non-parents actually realize how much money people spend on child care. It is disgusting at how crippling it can be to a family. Even one that has two incomes that are about average.

But we all make it work some how because that is what parents do. We do whatever it takes to give our kids the best.

Now we just need those in government to give  us a hand and make child care more universal.

Let’s pay the hard-working men and women who look after our kids much more. Let’s make the early education of our kids a priority.

Let’s help take a lot of the stress of being a parent of young children away.

That is what I think.

How about you?