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The state of daycare

Daycare is now a fact of life for many Canadian families but for most of the past century it's been the subject of fierce debate. Turn-of-the-century day nurseries were considered little more than "child farms" by many, while politicians of the 1950s blamed juvenile delinquency on daycares and "crèches." More recently a debate has swirled around the merits of universal daycare versus traditional parenting. CBC Archives looks at the changing face of daycare, from its charitable beginnings more than a century ago to the ongoing fight for a federally funded system.

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It's 1984 and waiting lists for day-care centres are growing longer by the day. Women's rights groups are stepping up pressure on the Liberal government for a fully funded universal system for all Canadian parents. In the clip from The Journal, Barbara Frum challenges the notion of free daycare for all, saying feminists "want it all -- now." 
. According to this clip, of the one million children requiring some form of care outside the home, only 1 in 10 was registered in a licensed day-care centre. With more than half of women employed outside the home, women's rights groups were in the midst of a massive campaign for a national daycare system.
. The Canadian daycare Advocacy Association (now the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada) was founded in 1983 and was a key player in this effort.

. In this clip Barbara Frum criticizes the notion of universal daycare, saying women's groups "will stop at nothing short of a nationwide system."
. Feminist groups have been lobbying for a national system since the late 1960s, with their demands including a universal, free program.
. In 1982 Jean Suavé established the first daycare on Parliament Hill.

. By 1983 the total federal and provincial spending on daycare was $375 million; more than three times the 1979 amount. Parents spent roughly the same as government.
. By the time of this clip the issue of universal daycare had become a hotly debated topic. Liberal Prime Minister John Turner had just appointed Katie Cooke, the former president of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, to head a child care task force to examine the state of daycare across the country.

. When Turner called an election in July 1984 (two months after this clip aired) Conservative leader Brian Mulroney promised a national daycare system as part of his campaign.
. After his landslide win in September 1984 Mulroney set up a special Parliamentary committee on daycare. After hearing back from the committee and Katie Cooke's task force, Mulroney's government announced a $3-billion National Child Care Strategy to reform federal child care funding in December 1987.

. Introduced in the house in July 1988, Bill C-144 would have shifted federal-provincial responsibilities for daycare and allowed for direct funding of commercial day centres. The seven-year plan was supposed to have created 200,000 new daycare spots.
. The Tory bill died in the Senate following an election call in November 1988.
. Mulroney tried to revive the bill in another form four years later, but it was eventually taken off the table in 1992 after a national survey shifted Tory priorities to child poverty.
Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: May 24, 1984
Guest(s): Judy Erola, Chaviva Hosek, Michael Krashinksy
Host: Bill Cameron
Moderator: Barbara Frum
Duration: 12:22

Last updated: March 28, 2012

Page consulted on June 9, 2014

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