Fighting provincial government policies that are skewed in favour of mothers working outside the home is a major preoccupation of a newly formed group in British Columbia.

West Coast Women for Family Values are established recently to “promote laws and policies promoting family life,” says one of the foundress, Kathleen Higgins of Delta, B.C.

“The work of mothers at home really needed a boost – there wasn’t enough appreciation for it,” contends toe 35 year-old mother of four.

Mrs. Higgins, a lawyer, is at present, the ‘token mother’ on a 15-member provincial task force on day care. In existence since July, the task force will present its report in January 1991, and Mrs. Higgins is determined that “whatever gets recommended doesn’t make it harder for people staying at home.”

The philosophy of the West Coast Women group is that a “mother has a right to look after her own children,” she observed, adding, “the state doesn’t have the right to put obstacles in her way.”

Anti-family trend

Current government policies which encourage mothers to work outside the home include a $1,000 subsidy for each child placed in day care, noted Elizabeth Loch, another member of the group.

And single moms receive a further incentive to enter the work force because the government “pads their wages” Mrs. Loch said.

She pointed out that a universally subsidized day care system would cost Canadian taxpayers between $10 and $40 billion annually. A far preferable system would include tax credits and allowances to mothers, which would give parents the flexibility to decide what is best for their children.

And there’s a “body of evidence” that shows “a real danger of non-attachment if infants and toddlers are placed in substitute care,” noted Higgins. “They can be damaged permanently.”

Coupon system

Mrs. Loch agrees. Not only that, says the mother of five, but “you just blink twice and they’re gone, they’re grown up.”  Kids in day care have “no private, quiet time in their whole young life to think their own thoughts.”

But she also believes that mothers at home should have the benefit of a ‘coupon system’ that would allow them to use day care periodically.

That’s an important concept because mothers at home need time off. If they have recourse to occasional child care, they might not feel the need to work full-time outside the home, she told The Interim.

Alberta

Meanwhile, in the neighboring province of Alberta, a recent decision by Social Services Minister Jim Oldring to allow single mothers on welfare two years at home with their child has been applauded by the pro-family group. Alberta Federation of Women United for Families (AFWUF).

Previously, single mothers with one child on assistance were expected to seek fulltime employment four months after the birth of their child.

A welfare reform package introduced November 26 included a provision which extends that time to two years.

According to AFWUF president Michelle Green, this option is beneficial to both mother and child.

“According to most experts, children should really not be put into day care at an early age.”  And the mom will have time in the two years to prepare to re-enter the work force and to decide on “appropriate care for her child,” Mrs. Green commented.