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Child care, who cares? : a critique of child care in Canada Dwyer, Michelle Margaret

Abstract

Today in Canada, child care is not perceived by the government, nor its citizenry, as a public good. Despite numerous reports from economic, health, social and psychological experts, Canadians remain complacent about the inadequate child care provisions in our country. As a society, we do not demand, or even anticipate, the public provision of universal, affordable, accessible child care. Instead, Canadians consider the care of children to be a predominantly private issue; unworthy of significant government intervention or assistance. Consequently, parents and children must improvise within a privatized, ad hoc, market-oriented patchwork of individualized child care arrangements. While it is true that certain "special" cases are acknowledged to deserve the government's support, - for example Aboriginal children and children with special needs, as well as the children of "welfare moms" - their exceptional status serves to reinforce the notion that the care of children is primarily a private parental responsibility. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and critique the current child care system (or lack thereof) in Canada. In addition, I intend to show that existing child care arrangements are unsatisfactory not only because of the immediate consequences for parents, children, and child care workers, but because of the way in which the privatized purchasing of child care reinforces other systemic shortcomings in our patriarchal, racialized, capitalist society. I will argue that current attitudes toward child care in Canada, as part of a patriarchal capitalist and racialized paradigm, rely on and perpetuate detrimental notions of class, gender and race, to the disadvantage of all citizens. Finally, I will discuss the possibilities for meaningful reform of the Canadian approach to child care.

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