• Parliament needs to cut back Canada’s excessive minimum-sentencing laws

    Mandatory minimums elide much-needed context from individual sentencing decisions, constrain judicial independence and, as the courts have said, can amount to cruel and unusual punishment… Perhaps politics is involved in the government’s reluctance to keep its promise. No one wants to risk being seen as soft on crime. But it’s that sort of craven calculation that has brought us to this point. It’s time the government found the courage to prune Canada’s overgrown mandatory minimum sentences.

  • Child care all but forgotten in Ottawa’s gender budget

    When queried by reporters on Tuesday about child care, Morneau pointed to last year’s 10-year, $7 billion budget commitment and the Canada child benefit, a monthly payment of up to $6,400 a year for kids under age 6 and up to $5,400 for those between the ages of 6 and 18. But neither advocates nor parents were impressed — especially since cash payments to families do nothing to create licensed child care spaces.

  • Employment and Pay (In)equality: The Big Childcare Issue Unaddressed in the Budget

    … a bigger bang for the buck could have been achieved by addressing the more significant problem head on: the childcare expense deduction, which is of limited benefit for so many families and mothers. Transforming the deduction into an income-tested refundable benefit, as we have suggested, would induce thousands of mothers to join the workforce, for a likely smaller cost than what’s proposed in this budget.

  • New parents need flexible workplaces. Did the budget deliver?

    Is the problem here really fathers? Or is the problem that Canadian workplaces are not flexible enough to accommodate workers who have children – regardless of the worker’s gender. Because until that happens, the employment problems created by the need for women to arrange their lives around children won’t really be solved. You are just spreading the problem experienced by one parent over two.

  • Motherisk Commission calls for sweeping changes to child protection system

    After identifying 56 cases where families were “broken apart,” commissioner Judith Beaman’s report makes 32 recommendations to “help ensure that no family suffers a similar injustice in the future.” … The Ontario Motherisk Commission’s two-year effort to repair the damage to families ripped apart by flawed drug and alcohol testing has produced sweeping recommendations aimed at preventing a similar tragedy, but in only a handful of cases has it reunited parents with their lost children.

  • Don’t forget child care

    What’s missing from all the leaks out of Ottawa is any hint that the budget will include the two programs that studies indicate would make the biggest difference in women’s lives and careers: a universal child care plan and use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave…. study after study indicates [that a national child care program ] would do the most to help women get back in the workforce, boost family incomes, improve early childhood skills for poor kids, add to government coffers, reduce child poverty — and, importantly, shrink the wage gap.

  • Access to early childhood education services varies widely across Canada

    “As more children participate in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, child care is left to top and tail the school day and fill in during holidays,” the report says. “This is a poor model that leaves too many families on wait lists for child care, destabilizes child care operators and creates split-shift, precarious jobs for early childhood educators.”

  • It’s time to let Indigenous communities manage native child welfare

    Ottawa should start funding aboriginal communities who either have, or are in the midst of developing, their own child-welfare laws. As aboriginal child welfare advocate Cindy Blackstock says, “Fix it now. We can always argue later.” Of course, reforming child welfare is just the start. Knowing that children are safe and, wherever possible, living in their home community are minimum standards that shouldn’t take years to meet. But it is only one of many needed fixes. Too many remote reserves still lack clean drinking water, adequate food and decent housing

  • Ottawa to begin fully funding Indigenous child-welfare agencies

    The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued its order on Thursday, saying Ottawa was not complying with a 2016 ruling that found it discriminates against Indigenous children by underfunding child welfare services. In a statement, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott on Thursday said… that Ottawa would immediately begin to cover agencies’ actual costs for prevention, intake and investigation, along with legal fees and building repairs, with reimbursement retroactive to Jan. 26, 2016.

  • Judge rules poverty not a reason to take child away

    An impoverished Halifax-area couple have regained custody of their toddler daughter, after a judge declared: “There is a difference between parents who are poor, and poor parents.” The province took the little girl into care in June 2016 because of her parents’ multiple challenges, including mental-health issues, interpersonal conflict and unstable living circumstances brought on by poverty… “It’s in the context of the parents’ accommodations that their poverty is conflated with being poor parents,” said the judge.