BC Council for Families

Family Facts: BC Council Blog

A New Deal for Families in the Making

Oct 18

by Marilee Peters
Acting Executive Director

Dr. Paul Kershaw
of UBC's Human Early Learning Partnership has a question for Canadians: "WTF"?

No, those letters don't stand for what you think they do.  They're short for "Where's the Family?", which is Kershaw's way of pointing out that Canada is becoming a country where it is increasingly difficult to raise a family. In fact, Kershaw argues that there is a generational divide in Canadian society, and young families are on the wrong side of it.

In response to that generational divide, Kershaw and a research team at the Human Early Learning Partnership today unveiled a series of provincial report cards detailing the situation for families and children across the country, and a solution for the growing inequities those report cards expose.  It's called "A New Deal for Families", and it's a simple recipe for three key policy changes to put the family back into Canadian values:

  • New Mom and new dad Benefits to ensure all parents, including the self-employed, have the time and resources to be at home with their newborns, at least until children are 18 months.
  • Thereafter, $10 a day child care services will ensure that parents can afford enough employment time to manage the rising cost of housing and stalled household incomes.
  • These will be supported by flex-time for employees and employers to remedy workplace standards that too often make it standard practice to ignore the family.

"Canada needs a new policy to restore the standard of living for the generation raising young kids," says Kershaw, who has calculated that the policy changes required would cost $22 billion annually or 2.8 per cent of the growth Canada's economy has seen since 1976.

Is BC Making the Grade?
BC's Family Policy report card contains some unsettling numbers. BC is the only province in which household income for young couples actually fell since 1976. While incomes dropped, the cost of housing soared, increasing by up to 149% since the 1970s. That means its now harder to raise a family in this province than it is anywhere else in the country.

It's figures like these that have Kershaw urging parents to become active political players, to refocus political attention on the needs of young families. He'll be delivering this message on Friday, October 21 to family service professionals at the Healthy Families, Brighter Futures conference hosted by the Council in Vancouver. Can't make the conference? You can still check out Kershaw's New Deal for Families online.

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