Monday, December 12, 2005

Best of both worlds

It figures that the NDP's child care policy announcement is apparently getting buried under this weekend's polling numbers - especially when the NDP's policy so neatly combines the best both the Cons and the Libs had to offer:
The NDP plan to improve child care and fight child poverty has three main elements:

- A Child Care Act to ensure that federal funding for child care is targeted at licensed, high-quality, non-profit child care.
- $1.8 billion invested in child care next year, with annual increases of $250 million for the next three years. This would create 200,000 additional spaces in the first year, with another 25,000 spaces annually after that.
- An increase in the federal child tax credit of $1,000 phased in over four years in order to help lower-income families cover child care costs and meet other essential expenses.
In other words, the NDP is not only joining the Libs in promising a public child-care system, but it's also taking the radical step of offering enough funding to make that system viable. At the same time, the bump in the child tax credit offers effectively the same added opportunity to make other choices (whether based on a parent staying home, on paying for private child care, or on other priorities) as that promised by the Cons.

That leaves both parts of the dichotomy the choice of either explaining why parents don't deserve the range of choices offered by the NDP, or trying to ignore the question entirely. It's a shame that the latter strategy seems to have worked so far, but hopefully that will change when Layton gets his chance to make his case within the debates.

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