Federal government wreaking child-care havoc across Canada

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Appeared in the National Post, May 19, 2023
Federal government wreaking child-care havoc across Canada

The federal government take over of Canada’s child-care sector continues to go poorly. This should not surprise anyone familiar with Canada’s government-run health-care system (which is a shambles), Canada’s governmental management of agricultural output (which deliberately creates scarcity) or the track record of government economic control in general.

The deleterious effects of the government’s child-care program have been widely reported in, among other places, the government-funded media. The CBC reported in March that “child-care centres across the country are so short-staffed now that they are turning away parents looking for spots.” There is, according to the CBC, a staffing “crisis” in child care.

According to a separate CBC report, there are many cases “of daycare centres running at half capacity, asking parents to take their kids out of care for a day or two a week, or even shutting down operations entirely.” A policy coordinator with an Ontario child-care non-profit organization said this is “the worst workforce crisis child care has ever faced.”

The Trudeau government is wreaking child-care havoc not only in Ontario but around the country. Again, according to CBC, in British Columbia government money is pouring into child-care centres that sit empty due to lack of staff, in Alberta the worker shortage has created a “crisis,” in Nova Scotia only 400 of 1,500 child-care spots promised by the end of 2022 were actually created, and in Manitoba there’s an estimated shortage of about 3,000 workers.

Another CBC story reported that in Ontario the inflated demand is “leaving working families with kids languishing on wait lists with no end in sight.” It quoted a parent in London who said “the system seems to have entirely collapsed.” Yet another CBC report quoted a Windsor parent who said “some waitlists are as long as a year and a half to two years.”

Stories from CBC Radio present additional evidence of a child-care crisis. “Parents in this province already know,” said the host of a CBC morning show in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, “that we have had $10-a-day day care since January. But many of those parents say they simply can’t find child-care spaces.”

There are a few clear problems with the federal program. First, the real cost is not $10 per day—that’s only the out-of-pocket cost. The total cost, which includes taxes, is far higher. Even worse, the government has taken control away from parents over how their child-care money is spent. And clearly, if the quantity of child-care available at $10 is effectively zero, then the advertised price tag is a lie.

How scarce are child-care spaces? The St. John’s morning show also highlighted a family waiting since the birth of their child—almost two years ago—for appropriate child care, without seeing any progress. It’s the same experience “most people are having here in our province,” said the mother, “which is that there is just a lack of child care.”

From coast to coast, the child-care sector is suffering crisis and widespread shortage—the entirely foreseeable result of a massive expansion of government control. The lesson is clear; we should want less government involvement, not only in child care, but given its horrible track record of organizing industry, in many other sectors, too. Those include health care, agriculture and the media—notwithstanding some good reports in the government-funded media on the failures of government child care.