-by David McLaren

The Harper Government's Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) cheques have started to arrive and Pierre Poilievre was front and centre, Tory-labelled golf shirt and all. As you probably know, a chunk of cash (some $3 billion worth) arrived in Canadians' mail boxes regardless of their income. I suppose that's what Conservatives mean by universal—everyone gets a piece of the pie, even those who have enough, thank you.

Our definition of Universal is different. Everyone who needs it has access to it—like health care. Those countries that have come out the other end of the Recession in good shape and managed to deal with poverty are those countries with true universal health care and child care (among other things).

The Conservatives' UCCB is not what successful countries do for their children.

In fact the Conservative's UCCB is barely a benefit. Let's say your annual UCCB cheque is $720. That $720 will be taxed at income tax time. In addition, another child tax benefit you got last year has been replaced by the UCCB. Subtract that and, poof! Your $720 UCCB is really worth only $158.22 a year, or $13.91 a month.

Bet that little calculation didn't come with your Harper Government cheque. If they're trying to buy votes with their UCCB, Conservatives are banking on Canadians being easily conned.

Try buying any kind of child care with $13.91 a month. High quality, safe and affordable—those are the NDP's goals for true universal child care. And there are a couple of bonuses with our plan—good jobs for qualified child care workers and more women in the work force. Two good reasons right there for a real universal child care program.

But the best reason is in the research. Good child care in early years translates into a better educated, more economically mobile population in later years. For every $1 spent on child care, the economy grows by $2.

David McLaren is the federal NDP candidate for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.



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