Most of available information on the Liberal's proposed daycare plan is positive. This is to be expected. It's written by the government, the unions, and various special interest groups funded by the government and unions. For example, there's Child Care Canada, which "receives funding from Social Development Partnerships, Social Development Canada, for which we are most appreciative." I'll bet. And Build Child Care, a lobby group funded by CUPE.
But there's no real focus for opposition to the great shambling monster Ken Dryden is trying to construct. The Tories have their own plan -- which is more sensible, though probably unnecessary as well -- but are too caught up with the distraction of same-sex marriage to give it much attention. I haven't found any other organized opposition to public day care on the web.
But there should be. And to start it off, the case has to be built against it. The proponents of it have had plenty of government money to produce reports and studies that confirm their position. I have nothing but my laptop, Google, and a bit of common sense. But nevertheless, here are my reasons to oppose government run child care in Canada:
Expense. Well, obviously. This is the big reason. To build the system as envisioned by the unions ('public and not-for-profit') would be horrendously expensive. Even a less ideologically-driven and more practical approach (direct subsidies) would be tremendously costly. The C$5 billion Ken Dryden is playing around with right now is just seed money to get things started. Operating expenses when the whole thing is up and running would be -- according to my calculations -- lots and lots and lots...
Fraud. Any time the government spills out great streams of cash, much of it seems to trickle through fingers and leak through the floorboards. This is the probable destination of much of the first C$5 billion. Very little of it will be paid to people to watch over children. But when the system is up and running there'll be fraud to contend with too. Whenever you have a payment structure where a third party is paying the bills for an exchange of services, the first two parties will often collude to take as much as they can from the payer. The insurance industry is cursed by it. Even the Canadian health system has this problem, and attempts to deal with it by randomly asking patients if they received the services that were performed in their name. But the government is powerless if both provider and receiver are working together.
Unfair competition. There are many people involved in the child care industry in Canada today. Many of them run their own mom-and-pop daycares and manage to make a living. If the government comes in with their 'non-profit' centers or complex requirements for subsidies, some of them are going to get run out of business.
The bad message to parents. One of the conceits that is seen time and again when reading the pro-child care system literature, is the idea that kids today are not being raised properly -- and that they have all the right solutions. Here's Ken Dryden:
[W]e know how important the early years are to our learning life. We want and need our kids to do better. And we know how.
Well, sorry Ken. I don't want you looking after my kids and filling their heads with mush. It scares me more than you can imagine, and I hope it scares a lot of other parents too. It may seem hard to believe, but all the reams of reports and studies and procedure manuals you will produce will never contain the secrets to raising children. It can never be done better by the government.
Union handcuffs. CUPE and their supporters say they want non-profit, public daycares. They also want unionized daycares. Once dependency on the system is established, the threat to withdraw their services would give them enormous power over the government.
Inability. The gun registry. The crumbling health system. The joke that is our immigration system. The disaster that is aboriginal affairs. HRDC. The looming Kyoto mess. The sponsorship scandal. These guys are terrible managers. Can anyone believe that if this child care plan goes through, it won't be another extremely expensive, absolutely ineffective boondoggle? If you were a bank manager and were asked to loan these guys money, given the track record they had, would you do it? I can understand that within government there must be a sense that if they can just find a nice place untouched by the previous SNAFUs, they can do it right this time. They're fooling themselves -- but they're not fooling Canadians. (Well, not all of them.)
There's a few other reasons, but I'll write about them another time. If anyone can think of others, or has some interesting information I don't know about, add them in the comments. I want to try to start drawing a strong argument together.