Proceeding with 'Care': Lessons to Be Learned from the Canadian Parental Leave and Quebec Daycare Initiatives in Developing a National Childcare Policy
Canadian Family Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.171-222, 2006
53 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2009
During the June 2004 and January 2006 federal election campaigns, the Liberal Party promised the creation of a universal, accessible childcare policy. Given the current scarcity of affordable, quality childcare throughout the country, this promise was, quite predictably, warmly received. At the same time, discussions about a national childcare policy raised important questions about ensuring the universality of accessible, quality care for children. Such issues have yet to be seriously deliberated in the academic, public and political discussions regarding the development of national childcare. This paper seeks to address questions about the effectiveness of federal involvement in early child education and care through the analysis of two other legislative initiatives created to support families with young children: the federal parental leave benefit policy established through the Employment Insurance Act, and Quebec's universal childcare program. An examination of these two initiatives reveals that each is premised on specific assumptions about "the family" and its social, cultural and economic dynamics. Yet these assumptions fail to reflect the realities of many families and, where this occurs, parents and their children are often denied state-supported benefits. Clearly, the design of a national childcare policy should seek to avoid such marginalization of families. This paper thus maintains that the assumptions underpinning Canada's parental leave policy and Qu¿bec's daycare initiative cannot serve as the premise for a national childcare program that might ultimately be created. Instead, this essay offers a new way of envisioning family relationships and responsibilities, work, and childcare, with a view to promoting the development of an equitable and inclusive Canadian childcare policy.
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