Child care has been a promise of government for years. The federal government once provided childcare in Canada. It began in 1942 when it saw women were needed in factories to assist the war effort. It was not uncommon for women to tether their child in the yard before they went off to work. Other arrangements were made, such as leaving your child with a friend or family member.
see this clip from CBC Archives.
The State saw the value in providing this care then but lost sight of its value when the war ended. Women were let go from there jobs and replaced by the returning men. The women were then expected to stay home and look after these children.
Ontario after some protests from women that lost their husbands in the war, kept some day cares going. The federal government however got out of the business of daycare funding.
The return of the federal government to the provision of daycare funding has been demanded for years. The NDP and the CCF had been asking for it years. The Conservative government of Brian Mulroney promised a national daycare program in 1984. By 1992 it became clear the federal government was going to back out of the promise. (see CBC clip Broken Promises)
Against a strong public protest in 1992, the Liberals in the election of 1993 prominently proclaimed Childcare as high priority in the infamous Redbook Canadians had a reasonable expectation that the long wait was over. It never happened.
In each successive election the Liberal government promised to deliver on Day care. After the election victory, the funding was never found, the promise unfulfilled, but it done its work in seeing some people vote Liberal in a vain hope it would happen this time.
We came close to getting daycare in Paul Martin's government. Martin was looking for issues to separate his Liberal minority from that of the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper. Child care was a key piece of his agenda. They actually started to negotiate with some provinces. Unfortunately Martin wanted to use the carrot of childcare in the election. He did not introduce the need legislation to Parliament. It would have passed had he done so however his thought was that to defeat Harper, he needed to give people something to vote for. The carrot did not work as we all know.
Harper won the election and changed direction on childcare. Now parents get money directly which covers only a very small portion of the cost. The hope of affordable childcare has been lost certainly under Harper.
Now Ken Dryden, LPC MP from Toronto is promising it again. This time they mean it. That's what he and some Liberals are saying. Just as Ignatieff has had to state very strongly his party is going to vote non confidence in the Harper Government, they have to be strong on childcare.
Will the Liberals bring in national funding to childcare if elected. This time they will have too. I expect if the Liberals are in a minority, they will need the NDP support to stay there. Childcare will be high on the list of things required of a minority government.