Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Let's call a spade a spade

Conservative MP, and soon to be Cabinet Minister, Monty Solberg signalled yesterday that there are two things the opposition parties can keep their hands off - the tax cut plan and the child care plan - a.k.a family allowance.

Solberg and crew shouldn't have much opposition to GST cut, corporate and capital taxes. It remains to be seen, however, if they will do the unpopular thing and hike income taxes to pay for it.

There stance on the new child care road map is completely different. The new family allowance plan is one of the worse ideas the Tories had in the arsonal. The plan is slated to cost over $10 billion in the next five years and will do little to ensure childcare spaces are provided for Canadians. I have raised this issue a few times on Moldy, but it is worth a much closer look.

The plan, similar to the Liberals 50/50 Tuition Plan, overwhelming favours the well-off. Now, some of my Conservative friends are ok with that and for other policies I would have little trouble with it but not this one. This plan needs go back to the garage and get a new coat of paint, some new tires and real engine.

The plan does little to address the supply side of the childcare equation. It only offsets the cost of childcare by a fraction (average cost of childcare in the country is at least $500 per month is Why am I so against giving parents choice? I am not. What I am against is believing that transfering a universal taxable benefit to every Canadian is good policy. The so-called $25 week or $1,200 is not actually that. It is a taxable benefit so very few Canadians will actually realize a benefit that size.

Also, since this money is taxable it will work to clawback other programs designed to assist working poor Canadians. It is simply adding another brick to the welfare wall. If the Conservative party was truly progressive or populist, they would extend a hand to these Canadians by assisting them rather than pushing them back under the poverty line.

The plan is also unfair because it would favour one-earner families over single-parent families and two-earner families. Most Canadian families need and use child care outside the home so that parents can work in the paid labour force or study. The proposed plan would do little if anything to increase the supply of affordable, quality child care. Nor would the scheme do much to help families pay for child care, since it would offset only a fraction of the cost of child care.

A much better alternative to the Conservative plan would be to use that money − about $1.6 billion net of federal and provincial/territorial income taxes − to boost the Canada Child Tax Benefit to strengthen the child benefit system. The base Canada Child Tax Benefit could be raised by about $800 per child under 6. This would help those who fundamentally need the money the most and strengthen child care in the country.

The Caledon Institute actually produced a short paper on the winners and losers under the new plan and it is worth a read.

Okay, let's call a spade a spade...

The Caledon Institute bills itself as a social policy think tank and a private, nonprofit organization with charitable status & non-partisan.

Read through the staff list and see if you can find anyone who isn't a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. Good luck.

Ken Battle is one of the most respected social policy minds in Ottawa. You don't get the Order of Canada for selling hotdogs on a street corner.

Does the institute lean to the left? Likely, however, there is not a SINGLE indication that anyone on staff is a socialist.

Why do you assume that? Have you seen them at NDP rallies? Is it because they are all university educated - those damn ivory towers? Is it because the staff have substantial working experience in domestic and foreign social policy roles under both the Conservatives and Liberals.

I appreciate your loyal viewing and comments, but sometimes a spade is a spade.
I guess my definition of a socialist isn't the same as yours.

Being a socialist doesn't keep one from being respected in Ottawa, particularly with Liberals in power.

Being a socialist doesn't keep one from being an Order of Canada recipient, particularly with a Liberal nominated Governor General.

Perhaps this is off subject but did David Ahenakew sell hotdogs on a street corner? Oh wait- they decided to take his Order of Canada back.

In reading the treatise (authored by Battle) which you linked, the theme wasn't visionary: The nanny government must control childcare; those damn capitalists will mess it up by involving money other than tax dollars!

How dare the Conservative reject an expensive and ill-considered program thrown together at the last minute as an election plum! It's a Liberal program, therefore sacrosanct!

How dare the Conservative suggest the people have a choice! What do the people know about children? Why, they'll spend that money on... you know.

Funny how a non-partisan think tank would do nothing but slag the Conservatives, isn't it?
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