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Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly

PO Box 1320  |  Yellowknife, NT  X1A 2L9

Creating Equal Opportunities

Universal Daycare

> Instead of as a traditionally social issue, we must look at universal/affordable daycare as a nexus to creating an economy of scale for northern population growth, and immediately increasing the northern workforce.

 

> Universal daycare frees up parents to rejoin the workforce. Ensuring a minimal application process and no waiting lists means such a program reaches disadvantaged kids, as well as removes stress from parents searching for daycare options in an under-supplied, and costly private market. 

 

> On average, this means healthier kids, well socialized across socioeconomic strata, who will do better in school, and will cost less in health and justice expenditures in the long term.

 

> And then we have the separate issues of A) needing to rely on immigration to fill future jobs, and B) that a large portion of our federal funding is based on population (if the population shrinks, so does out federal funding). Universal daycare addresses both of these issues. Studies in southern Canada have shown that investment in day care gives $1.75 back for every $1 invested; this does not include the extra approximately $35k per person through federal transfers for extra kids born in the NWT. Such a program pays for itself in increased economic growth. 

 

> Universal Daycare also means more workers (so less reliance on fly-in/fly-out, and decreased pressure on immigration targets) both in the future as well as the very moment it’s implemented. The deterrent cost of child care in the NWT presently encourages the lower wage earner in a relationship to stay home; with affordable or universal daycare, it makes sense for them to stay in the workforce. 

> The GNWT has started good work with the implementation of Junior Kindergarten but we have more to do. The key roadblock going forward is that universal daycare in Yellowknife looks fundamentally different than the communities. I believe a compromise can be reached by ensuring universal daycare is implemented in Yellowknife, where it is needed most, and then funding is provided to communities to create the childcare and development program that best suits their individual needs. The GNWT consistently applies a one size fits all approach to our communities, this simply does not work and is contrary to the self government our communities are entitled to. 

Guaranteed Livable Income

i. Save money by ending poverty

> I will begin this platform point by quoting from the Calls to Action of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls:

We call upon all governments to establish a guaranteed annual livable income for all Canadians, including Indigenous Peoples, to meet all their social and economic needs. This income must take into account diverse needs, realities, and geographic locations.

> A Guaranteed Livable Income creates a minimum income which no resident of the NWT can fall below. Such a program replaces overlapping and redundant federal and GNWT programs, along with the costs in administrating them. This is not a new idea. It has already been tested and proven to work elsewhere in Canada. It was tested with the Mincome pilot project in Manitoba in the 1970's, and even when the project was cut short, the data proved the project was an overwhelming success. We have seen this same cycle repeated with Doug Ford's cancellation of Ontario's basic income program, despite the evidence showing that basic income projects save money by ending poverty. 

 

> Poverty is not a fact of life – it is not a lack of character – it is a lack of cash. Being poor is not caused by laziness, in fact as people fall below the poverty line they work twice as hard to survive. Meanwhile poverty costs us all money as the government starts to pick up the bills. Costing us more in increased medical, judicial, and administrative costs. The NWT presently has one of the widest income gaps in Canada. Yet we are also extremely well suited to renegotiate how federal welfare programs are distributed. With a high rate of people already on some form of income assistance in our communities, we are amply suited to begin a pilot project that replaces such programs and removes the perverse disincentives for working they create.

 

> A Northern led project could prove once and for all what we already know – guaranteeing people a livable income allows them to end their poverty. A guaranteed floor which no Northerner can fall below gives people the security to get the education and skills they need to enter the workforce on their own terms, thus ensuring they remain there. If we are genuinely committed to eliminating poverty, then the time is overdue for – a Guaranteed Livable Income.