Daycare crisis? A single-parent speaks out
- February 2, 2009 12:25 PM |
- By Your Voice
Submitted by Alana Downey
Bio/About: I am a 35 year-old single mother, divorced since 2004 and on my own since 2003. I was 29 when my ex-husband left. I had been working at a bank up north for a few years, during which time I had my son.
My take: I, too, am a single-parent completely frustrated with the cost of daycare/after-school care.
When my husband left for greener pastures, I was working up north with a work arrangement of about 20 hours per week. Considering the remote location away from family, I had to apply for a transfer which was accepted. My new work arrangement in the Lower Mainland was 12 hours a week plus any on-call shifts that were available. With my son being four at the time, I was working as much as I could just to pay the rent.
The childcare subsidy was a complete joke. The "parental portion" I had to pay took everything I had left, including grocery money. And no, I was not sitting at home with cable and internet, etc. I would have been better off to quit my job and go on welfare, but I was hopeful that my situation would turn around eventually. Over the next two years, I was able to transfer around and get work arrangements from 12 hours to 20, 22, 32, and now after five years I've finally obtained a full-time position.
Would you believe that my childcare subsidy cut me off when I reached about $15,000 per year? My bi-weekly pay cheques were less than $500 after taxes. I could have cried (and I'm sure I did) when the Universal subsidy came out for children UNDER SIX. Here I was, struggling to survive, and because my child had just turned six we did not qualify. I work at a bank, and watched as dual-income families came in to proudly deposit their cheques some families receiving more than one cheque if they had more than one child under six.
And yes, I have gone to court to request an order requiring my ex-husband to help pay for childcare (under special expenses.) Every time I do, he counters with an application for sole custody. So in order to receive the help I need, I have to defend my position of raising a son and tie up valuable court resources. Talk about stress!
The government policies around this are not only unfair, they are harming the very parents who take responsibility for raising our next generation. Constantly putting aside the financial worries (and in my case, court worries) in order to provide a fun, safe environment for a child is taxing. But not to worry, when stress gets the better of me I'm sure our medical system will take excellent care of me.
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