08 March 2010

What I learned today (International Women's Day and Fallout from Changes to the LCP)

I spent a bunch of this weekend thinking about impact of the changes to the Live-in Caregiver program, and even more today, on International Women's Day, when the Parkland Institute released depressing research on the gender pay gap. My conclusion: In Canada women are supposed to stay home and raise the children.

I don’t think the policy will change a great deal for families that already have nannies in place. While paying Health Insurance and WCB insurance will increase the monthly cost for families, the greater impact will definitely be on families who were considering a nanny for after April 1.

For families in a situation like mine, this change will take the nanny-option off the table. The up front cost, plus monthly cost, and the risk of the nanny just not working out, will make live-in care a tough decision. I think this reinforces the impression I get, that people think that nannies are a privilege or prerogative of the wealthy.

My reality, and I’m sure the reality of many other families out there, is that a nanny was the only choice.  In 2007, when K was born, I was self-employed and therefore not eligible for EI. My husband took the parental leave he could, but in the end that left us needing childcare for a 7 month old. Daycare spots for infants in Calgary are few and far between, not to mention extra expensive. Day homes aren’t consistent enough, licensed enough. We didn’t have many options, chose to make sacrifices in other areas of our budget, so that 7 month-old K could stay in his own home during the day, so that I could work my schedule to breastfeed him and see him.

Now, being priced out of this solution, I foresee families deciding to withdraw one parent from the workforce.

I understand that the changes were to protect live-in caregivers from exploitation, but I think in some ways, this will move the exploitation outside of our borders. If Canadian families cannot afford to pay the fees charged by Canadian agencies, won't they end up using foreign agencies who aren't beholden to our laws and therefore can 'work around' charging the family a fee? I spoke to our placement agent and she’s considering putting the placement portion of her services on the back burner, waiting to see how this will play out.

All of this seems even more ironic today, on International Women’s Day, when I just finished reading about how Alberta women who work full-time, year-round, earn just 66 per cent of what men earn.  and that,
“In 2008, UNICEF ranked 27 industrialized countries on their child care policies and outcomes. Canada ranked last. And Alberta ranks last in Canada on a number of indicators. In other words, Alberta families access one of the worst early childhood systems in the industrialized world.  Alberta doesn't fund child care centres, and instead gives lower-income families subsidies. Our approach is easily discredited by the results: Alberta's number of regulated child care spaces hasn't grown since 1992, despite huge growth in population and the economy. Alberta has among the fewest spots for children zero to five, and some of the highest fees.”
What I’m taking away is that in Canada, and in Alberta for sure, one more barrier has been put up against the working mom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is terrible. I always brag to anyone who will listen that Canada is the absolute best place to live and has the best standard of living of anywhere in the world. Hmm, it seems that this is true only if you don't happen to have small children and a job. Aargh, it makes me really really angry.

All of the other mothers that I know in London have gone back to work, many of them full time. The daycare places are there and regulated, although a good nursery will set you back at least £50 per day per child.

Rant over. Sort it out Canada, you've let me down :-(

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