There are dozens and dozens of things that are good for people, for children, for families. But does that mean that the government should pay for every identifiable good? There is no doubt that grandparents are crucial influences in people’s lives. One who understand human relations doesn’t need an army of psycho-babblers and social workers to shed light on this truth. When I lived in Montreal, I remember a Punjabi friend of mine there telling me how in her family culture, children were reared by the grandparents until the children were 7 years old. I didn’t have any children then, but I recall thinking what a great thing that must be.
I myself was fortunate enough to have been exposed to my grandparents, both sets, very very often. For a short period I lived with my maternal grandparents and my maternal grandfather is one of the most influential figures in my life. So I get the point that software engineer Rachel Decoste rather unmotivationally makes at the Huffington Post about how important grandparents are for the healthy development of children. Decoste is in a huff because Jason Kenney didn’t want the Canadian taxpayers to pay for grandparents to come and accompany immigrants’ children. She thinks the argument about paying for extra healthcare bills is small potatoes in relation to the benefits of having children have their grandparents around. She goes as far as implying that children who develop at physical distance from their grandparents have unhealthy development.
But there is no evidence to that effect in the small platoon of “scientists” to which the software engineer makes reference. But even if there were, the crucial public policy question is not answered: Is the state responsible for footing the bill to make sure that all children in Canada have their grandparents available? If it is, Decoste is leaving most Canadians out of the privilege. It does not seem to occur to Decoste that many, many Canadians live away or far away from their grandchildren. Yet, no one I know playing with a full deck argues that the taxpayer should foot the bill for people’s grandparents to go live with their grandchildren. Again, I get how grandparents are immensely important. But how comfortable are Canadians to foot the bill for other people’s grands to go visit or live with their grandchildren? And how willing would seniors be to deplete the resources of the community for such purposes when their grandchildren will later be saddled with the bill for such nonsense? Or maybe Decoste can grab more from wealthy seniors as some people in the UK argue.
If Decoste is willing to pay for my Quebec in-laws and for my father who lives in Nicaragua to come visit my children in Alberta regularly so that my children can have all the benefits she extols about having one’s grandparents present, I will be happy to open a new bank account for that purpose. This National Grandparents Day, those of us who have benefited from the ever-loving arms of ‘gran’ and ‘gramps’ recognize that all Canadian kids should be afforded that privilege [My emphasis]. Afforded by whom? Ultimately, if Decoste is convinced that no child residing in Canada should live without grandparents in close proximity, she ought to establish a private fund for this purpose. No need for government to be involved.