Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Diane Finley answers -- 142 days too late

As I fully expected, it was another form letter and even more disjointed and pointless than Flaherty's shtick. But I said I would post her reply whenever it came ... so here it is.

Thank you for your electronic message, which was forwarded to me by the office of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, concerning child care policy for Canadian families. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying.

The Government of Canada recognizes that families are the building blocks of a society and that child care is a priority for Canadian families. We are committed to providing parents with resources to help balance work and family life, and letting them choose what is best for their children. Budget 2006 set out the two main elements of Canada’s Universal Child Care Plan. The aim of our plan is to support all parents of young children, whether they work in the paid labour force or stay at home with their children, or live in a small town, rural community or large urban area. I am pleased to take this opportunity to provide you with information on Canada’s Universal Child Care Plan, and to invite you to visit, to explore the plan in more detail.

The Universal Child Care Benefit came into effect on July 1, 2006. It provides $100 per month for each child under six, taxable in the hands of the spouse with the lower income. All families with young children benefit, regardless of income or the type of child care they choose. The benefit puts choice for child care where it belongs—in the hands of parents—and allows them to choose the option that best suits their family’s needs. This new benefit provides Canadian families with direct financial assistance in addition to the Canada Child Tax Benefit, National Child Benefit Supplement and Child Care Expense Deduction.

The Government will also help Canadian parents to better balance child care and work responsibilities. The budget allocates $250 million per year, beginning in 2007–2008, to support the creation of up to 25,000 new child care spaces each year. In the coming months, I will consult with parents, employers, community and non-profit organizations, and the provinces and territories on the Child Care Spaces Initiative. The key to this initiative’s success will be to ensure flexibility in its design, so that new spaces meet the needs of all families, regardless of where they live or their hours of work. New spaces could include workplace-based child care centres in big cities, as well as more flexible spaces that work for families in small towns and rural areas, or for parents who work non-traditional hours, outside the standard nine-to-five working day.

Canada’s Universal Child Care Plan represents a new approach to child care that respects the role of parents in determining how best to care for their children and recognizes the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments for delivering child care services. That is why we are phasing out the 2005 agreements on early learning and child care that were signed with three provinces. As a transitional measure, we are providing funding to all provinces and territories for the 2006–2007 fiscal year, ending March 31, 2007, at the level set out in the 2005 budget: a total of $650 million dollars is allocated to all provincial and territorial governments, on an equal per capita basis. This is in addition to amounts that we transfer to the provinces and territories for early childhood development, including child care ($500 million in 2006–2007), and early learning and child care ($300 million in 2006–2007).

Thank you for sharing your views. I appreciate having had the opportunity to share details of Canada’s Universal Child Care Plan.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

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