Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 06/21/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Manitoba deserves congratulations for its policy of restricting some of its public funding to not-for-profit child-care centres. It's easy to understand why entrepreneur Victoria Sopik of Kids & Company, would wish that her private business could be more subsidized by Manitoba taxpayer dollars (Daycare-subsidy rules bad for business, June 18), but there are very good reasons to maintain our policy.
First, it is greedy of business owners to ask for subsidies, and it would be inefficient to use taxpayer dollars to pad the profits of private owners. Second, there's significant evidence the quality of care for children in commercial child care tends to be lower (in large part because of poorer wages and working conditions for the early-childhood educators).
Third, there is equity of access: all of Manitoba's not-for-profit centres charge the same parent fee, a maximum of $29 per day, unlike the $50 to $70 per day charged by the commercial operator. Finally, international research shows that in jurisdictions with a large commercial sector, regulations and standards tend to get lowered to maximize profitability -- something that further jeopardizes quality for children, families and staff.
Solving the severe shortfall of child-care services in Manitoba requires public and not-for-profit solutions, not underwriting for-profit businesses.
Department of sociology
University of Manitoba
Victoria Sopik's claim that Manitoba is "unique in limiting funds to for-profit centres" is wrong on two counts. First, profit-making child-care centres do benefit from fee subsidies (but not operational funding) in Manitoba. Second, no public funding at all is provided to for-profits in Saskatchewan.
Sopik is not only wrong but wrong-headed. There are excellent reasons why the Manitoba government has historically been unenthusiastic about spending public child-care dollars to support owners' and shareholders' profits. Considerable evidence shows the same funds can be used more effectively and accountably, with demonstrably better quality and access results, to support non-profit and public programs.
Childcare Resource and Research Unit Toronto
As I walk or drive by Kids & Company in the former Great Canadian Travel Company location on York Avenue, I cannot help but notice that this location has no trees, no large playground area, and a small black tarmac area, which looks like it may be a congested play area. I conclude that this location was not chosen with daycare in mind.
Studies have shown that exposure to natural surroundings is important to a child's development. In this case, location is indeed bad for business.
The June 19 Fraser Institute article Hike to PST will bite Manitobans hard states that "the PST rate hike alone will increase the average family's total tax bill this year by $437 -- and that's just with the higher rate for six months of the year."
A tax of one per cent is $1 for each $100 spent. According to my math, the Fraser Institute article implies that an average family will spend $43,700 in six months, or $87,400 per year, and have a tax increase of $874 per year. This is nonsense.
More realistically, the average family (whose annual income in Manitoba is significantly lower than $87,400) will likely only spend $30,000 to $40,000 and incur an annual increase of less than $400 in PST, or about $1 per day.
While I strongly oppose the increase to the PST and the fraudulent means by which the NDP government is attempting to do so, I would be happy to absorb the cost if I believed it was destined to make a difference in the lives of Manitobans.
I'd gladly accept the increase if it meant those living under the welfare umbrella were granted the means to live with dignity. I'd accept the increase if it meant schools could avoid axing music and arts programs and the facilities were provided to ensure physical education remained an integral part of student life.
I'd be happy to do my bit if it meant wait times for MRIs and CT scans were brought into line with our technological capacity to ease peoples' suffering. Heck, I'd pay two per cent if meant our provincial government demonstrated a willingness to rethink the entire Hydro debacle and its reliance on Crown corporations in an effort to balance the books.
What have we gained through all the incremental tax creep and that which is being proposed? Our infrastructure decays, our environmental concerns are paid lip service, and we remain saddled with a debt that might well cripple us when borrowing costs inevitably rise.
I want Greg Selinger to pledge to all Manitobans the forthcoming wage negotiations with the public-sector unions will reflect the sacrifice he now begs from the rest of us. To do anything but will make abundantly clear the rationale that rests behind his intentions.
As a boat owner who has dealt with Rond's Marine, I find their involvement in the Brian Pallister news conference disappointing (Political games over PST rousing ire, June 19). Taking a partisan stance on an issue will alienate some customers and appears short-sighted.
Besides, the $200 difference they reference is the about the cost of one tank of gas in a boat, or a couple of hours of skiing.
If you cannot afford that, then do not buy the boat (and continue to drive on potholed roads).
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2013 A13
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