Day care in Manitoba : an analysis of its socio-economic origins and objectives

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Alvare, Gordon C.
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With the increasing number of working mothers in the labour force, particularly during the past twenty years, there has been a corresponding increase in the popularity of day care for the children of these working mothers. This thesis examines the social, economic and political aspects of day care, from its earliest beginnings in North America and Canada, down to a particular case, the development of day care in the province of Manitoba. More specifically, this thesis looks at the social, economic and political origins and objectives of the day-care legislation introduced in 1974 by the New Democratic Party government of Manitoba, which first came to power in 1969. The following questions about the development of this day-care policy prompted the thesis: was day care a priority issue for the N. D. P. when it was first elected; if it was, why did it take five years for a government policy to appear; how did the policy relate to the social policy objectives of the government; what was the redistributive effect of the new legislation; and what was the role of the professional in the development of the new policy. The study shows that, as in other areas of policy, the N. D. P. government, labelled as a "socialist" group, focussed its attention most closely on a type of day care that would strengthen its popular support by appeasing the mistrusting middle class, rather than substantially promote the interests of the lower ones. The policy was delayed by cost-sharing problems with the federal government and by ministerial caution. When it appeared it was mistaken as a device to assist the lower classes (as federal cost-sharing regulations intended). However, its analysis shows that in reality it was a device to liberate middle-class mothers so that they could enter the work force. Like many other social policies, the day-care policy reinforced class disparities. The children of the relatively better-off received an additional head start in a competitive economic system. The professionals contributed to this phenomenon, as shown by the controversy between them and the government during the introductory phases of the policy.