Not bad pay for a night's work

Recently the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador* announced that, to combat the province's declining population, they would be implementing a baby bonus for each child born or adopted (interestingly enough, I didn't read that the child had to be adopted from outside the province) to the tune of $1,000. The province's population has been declining due to outmigration and a declining birth rate for some time now.

That's right, folks, for about the cost of five months of diapers, you too could be proud parents of a/nother child! Evidently the province of Quebec tried this with some success not too long ago, and in keeping with the distinct society that Newfoundland is, they've opted to go the same route and bribe parents to have kids. Critics have said (see first link) that until Quebec upped the ante to $8k for the third kid, the policy was largely ineffective. No wonder.

The standard arguments have come out of provincial opposition parties in Newfoundland. Who are you supposedly 'bonusing' to have children here? Who is most likely to be enticed by the child-dowry?The low income earners? What happens when low income Canadians have children they can scarcely afford to house, clothe, and put into daycare when the time comes?  And how much will the province be on the hook for with all the potential 'parental' leaves that our country nicely legislates.

These same questions came up at a party of parents and not-yet-parents over the weekend. I say not-yet-parents because damn if fertility isn't contagious. Also, who knows when our province will start going down the same road. Only in our case, it'll be $1,000 for the kid, and $1,000 more if you move to a rural community. $10k if you put them in medical school and make them promise to stay in the province forever. Hey, indentured labour is a time-honoured tradition.

Beyond the $200 per month we get for having children under the age of six (Thanks, Mr. Prime Minister, but did you also foresee that our daycare would coincidentally increase by $100 per child that very same month this started?), we haven't received any sort of compensation for having offspring. I should correct myself: this is not entirely true. We will get a 'tax credit' for the next few months, since one parent who is not me made just over the poverty line while on maternity leave. But once the tax people know we're back on our feet again, we'll say bye-bye to that extra $70 per month. Either way, if you're not poor, you're not getting rich by having kids. And if you're poor? You're not getting rich by having kids. Strange, that.

Perhaps instead of a baby bonus, Newfoundland & Labrador could just outlaw headaches. 

*this time I'll mention Labrador, since they're also affected by this.

Posted bythemikestand at 10:35 AM  

5 stepped up to the mike:

Brianna said... 1:10 PM, September 25, 2007  

I understand the desire not to have a unique society die out but given the general world wide overpopulation problem it seems selfish to incentives adding more people to the world.

Also: does the government really owe anyone anything for procreating?

SRH said... 3:27 PM, September 25, 2007  

Wouldn't improving amenities and attracting viable businesses increase the desirability of the area? Save the kid bounty and create a more young family friendly atmosphere.

cronznet said... 12:21 PM, September 26, 2007  

Wow...your kids have only kept you up one night?
My cynical side reads this program as an extreme anti-immigration move. But maybe there aren't jobs for immigrants? If so, why pursue more native residents?
Anyway, I'd hold out for the $8K program if I were you and TLW. If in fact you want a bigger family and one more night's work.

themikestand said... 6:52 PM, September 26, 2007  

brianna: It's a bit of a twist, isn't it? Without population growth, there's no tax base, but also slower growth in health care costs. I doubt the former outweighs the latter, so I think I'm on your side with this.

srh: I think Newfoundland is doing about all it can, given the circumstances (it's reasonably isolated, though incredibly beautiful.) I don't think buying fertility is the answer, either.

croznet: That wasn't the "night's work" I was thinking about. My kids certainly will owe me several dozen good sleeps when they're older. And coffee and bacon, served in bed. I hope they read this someday.

chRistine said... 7:15 AM, September 27, 2007  

I believe it was Russia, but one country recently gave every married couple a day off to "procreate".. and if that day off results in a child being born 9 months later, the couple is then eligible for big ticket items like appliances and cash.

I'm with Cronznet on this.. I always kind of look at this as "anti-immigration"..

But I'm the untrusting type.

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