Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Don't Wanna Work

I just want to hang with the tot all day.

This is not necessarily a knock against my job, but I know a hell of a lot of people, far and away the majority (from anecdotal evidence) in my general economic stratum who would rather be home with their pre-school kids than doin' time at the office 5 days/week.

If they could afford it.

Now, everyone bitches about money it's true, but for people in the middle-income brackets it really is a hell of a stretch to go it on one salary, given the cost of housing in the major metropolitan areas and the amount of help coming from the feds, i.e., none. $100 a month (pre-tax) from Mr. Harper? Do me a favour.

But of course this isn't news to anyone, because after all we're in the midst of a child care crisis in this country. "Child Care" is one of those issues, like "Homelessness," that's really an amalgam of a whole bunch of other sub-issues, and the needs and wants of every parent/family are different. Take a look at this article in yesterday's Star:

When Toronto physician Heather MacNeill was pregnant with her first child, she dutifully put her name on the waiting list for a toddler space at Withrow Childcare Centre.

Almost four years later, her daughter Leia, now 3 1/2, is still waiting for a spot in the popular Riverdale-area daycare.

"We did our research and my husband and I really wanted our child to be in a good daycare in our neighbourhood," said MacNeill, who gave birth to the couple's second child in September and is making do with a nanny when she works.

A Riverdale doctor who, it would seem, only applied to one daycare centre is a pretty bizarre example to use for sure, but I'm assuming the point here is to highlight the lack of decent spaces and length of waiting lists in some Toronto neighbourhoods rather than the financial situation of one particular family. But this is kind of the problem in a nutshell: the people who really need (however you define that term) the spaces are either those who can readily afford it or those in a desperate financial bind, i.e., those who have to work because it's the only way they'll ever dig themselves out of their current situation.

Just to be clear: I'm not one of these conservative cranks [scroll down to comments] who thinks that the evil Liberal elite in this country wants to wrench all of our kids away from us and airdrop them into soulless kiddie penitentiaries. But I do think that certain interests have been pushing institutionalized care (like junior kindergarten before it) as the ideal. We're lucky. My daughter's in a great, great daycare, run by a non-profit family services group, and she's thriving. I'm not. Every day your kid does something new or develops some new verbal or physical skill, and we're only there to see it when we're half-awake and rushed in the mornings or tired and rushed at the end of the working day. And I do think it's bizarre that any society would consider laying out a huge whack o' cash to fund an army of professionals to take care of kids when most of us'd rather do it ourselves.

I guess the point to all of this is that I, and a lot of people in my boat, don't really care about an increase in overall daycare spaces or even about the possibility of a partially-subsidized system. What I want is some help--income supplements, major tax credits, income splitting for tax purposes, how about it?--that would at least give me the option of doing what I want.

She agrees with my every word.

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