Stephen Harper claims that there are many government programs we can no longer afford. And, he says, he certainly will not create any new ones. But that is exactly what he has done. Tom Walkom writes:
Tuesday’s report by the Parliamentary Budget Office stated what should have been obvious: about a third of what Ottawa spends on its Universal Child Care Benefit already goes to families who don’t need or use daycare.
The report estimates that when the benefit is expanded this year to include all children under 18, a little over half will go families who don’t need or use daycare
More importantly, the Harper government wanted to ensure that the alternative to the baby bonus — a comprehensive, publicly funded, national child-care program — never saw the light of day.
Successive Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments had flirted with the idea of involving the state in child care. To the Harperites, this was ideological anathema.
But it was enough to put a hole in government revenues. The Conservative scheme boosted Ottawa’s spending by about $2.7 billion in 2006. The expanded benefit ($160 a month per child under 6 and $60 a month for those aged 6 to 17) will bring the costs of the program to well over $7 billion this year.
If the Parliamentary Budget Office’s estimates are correct, just over half of that amount will go to families whose children (perhaps because they are teenagers) don’t need or use daycare. Is that a misuse of funds? If the Conservative child-care benefit is supposed to deliver child care, the answer is yes.
In the early 1970's, David Lewis made the phrase "Corporate Welfare Bums" part of the Canadian political vocabulary. Today we have an updated version of the same. But we should change the phrase. What we now have are Upper Crust Welfare Bums.