My fingers shook with excitement as I opened the all-too familiar brown envelope from the Government of Canada. I read the brief letter and gave a whoop of joy! An extra $60CAD every month for the monthly Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), totalling $160CAD per month, per child, under the age of six (I only have one child right now). And to add the icing on the cake, I would also receive hundreds of dollars in retroactive payments from January-June 2015 of UCCB, which would take into account the increase in payments between Jan-June. I ended up pocketing an extra $500 in retroactive payments, as a result.


And what did I have to do to receive this windfall? Nothing, except for birthing out a child. Are there any strings attached to this extra money, you ask, since nothing comes for free (especially money). Well…errr…I will get into that shortly.


UCCB is a taxable benefit from the federal government that is provided to parents of children under the age of six (recently expanded to include children ages 6-17yrs), in order to help pay for childcare options. The Harper Government touts the UCCB as providing families the freedom to choose their own childcare options based on their family’s needs. In other words, this money subsidizes parents’ chosen childcare method.


I suspect that this recent increase in “free” money is also meant to encourage families living in Canada to have more children, in order to shore up our future tax base and labor market. Instead of, you know, depending on immigration to bolster the Canadian tax base and have new entrants into the labor market.


I also found the timing of this new money to be quite…telling. Consider that we have a federal election coming up in October 2015 and a voter base that may be seeking a change in leadership after a decade of Tory supremacy. What better way to sneak your way into your voters’ hearts and minds than to throw in some free money and focus on parents and their ‘cute-as-a-button’ kids. This is a simple yet effective campaigning strategy; much better than endless pictures of politicians kissing random babies.


While it is always nice to get free money to spend on my child, you know what would show to me that this current government actually cares about making life affordable for middle class families? It would be having a system in place for a national daycare program; the joint federal-provincial policy initiative that the Tories scrapped, when they first came to power in 2006.


With a national daycare program, parents will have peace of mind knowing that high-quality, licensed and affordable child care spots are abundant. Right now, to find quality childcare (at least in Ontario) is a matter of luck. Parents often have to wait in waitlists for over a year, to get into the limited licensed spots and those spots can be anywhere from $1000-$2000/month for full-time care (licensed facilities follow provincial laws and has some accountability structure, in place). Paying your monthly mortgage can often be less costly!



And what about those parents who cannot afford to pay the hefty price tags to ensure that their kids will be safe, will be fed healthy food and will get developmentally appropriate activities, while they are at work or school? Those parents either have to stop working altogether or be put on a waitlist for subsidized municipal operated, provincially-funded daycare facilities.


After a year of researching and calling several places, being put on multiple waitlists, calling some of them repeatedly to try and get interviews and then finally finding a licensed home daycare agency, having a national network, rather than a patchwork, of high-quality and affordable care would have saved me hours of time, stress and also my money.


I will be paying about $750/month for part-time daycare, for my son, in a licensed home daycare facility. Which adds up to $9000CAD/year. I get $160/month in UCCB, which adds up to $1920CAD/year. Does that even come close to subsidizing mine or anyone of your child’s daycare? You do the math.


Oh, and that extra money was not free money after all (according to media reports). It will be clawed back, perhaps significantly, come tax-time in March 2016…long after the federal election.