Justin Trudeau Asks Doug Ford To Make Daycare Deal After Alberta Enrolls

OTTAWA – Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Doug Ford to strike a child care deal with Ottawa after Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney signed a $ 10-a-day child care deal Monday with the first Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau asked Ford to heed calls from Ontario parents and child care advocates and come to the table, saying he hopes the two sides will agree.

But the Minister for Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, suggested there was still no concrete proposal from Ontario, despite a letter she and the Finance Minister received from Queen’s Park on Friday.

Ontario says it has expressed its expectations and, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Star, the province believes that those and an earlier proposal should be the basis for negotiations.

But Ottawa “is still waiting for that plan of action,” Gould said. “And while I very much welcome the letter from (Education Minister Stephen Lecce), we are still awaiting more details from the province of Ontario.”

At Queen’s Park, Lecce said the province submitted a so-called “term sheet,” a working document that lays the groundwork for talks, to Ottawa ahead of the Sept. 20 federal elections, and the province will provide a more detailed request. .

In her letter Friday, Lecce emphasized that Queen’s Park wants Ottawa to consider Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program for all four- and five-year-olds.

“We view these spaces as integral components of our child care and education systems,” he wrote. “Creating universal programming for these children at no cost to families is a significant investment of $ 3.6 billion a year.”

In the legislature on Monday Lecce said that means “260,000 children are receiving full subsidies from the provincial taxpayer.”

The provincial government had at one point weighed whether to eliminate the full-day kindergarten, which was introduced by the previous liberal government.

Lecce said Queen’s Park also wants Ottawa to provide ongoing sustainable financing beyond the five-year commitment. That’s something Gould said the federal budget has already committed to as part of the “fiscal framework,” adding that he intends to introduce legislation to bolster the program.

“I think it would be very difficult for a future government to say that they are going to stop supporting families with affordable child care,” he said.

Right now, Ontario says the federal government pays only about 2.5 percent of Ontario’s contribution to child care.

“We … know that the federal government must pay a fair share,” Lecce said. “They could do much, much more. We know, and believe, that there is a lot on the horizon. “

It has all left parents like Simon Landry and his partner dismayed that the two governments cannot agree on improvements that would help families and recognize the value of early child care workers.

“It is disappointing, but it is very much in agreement” for the Ford administration, Landry said in an interview.

Landry said he and his partner work full time and pay $ 1,650 a month for daycare for their nearly 18-month-old son. When they first looked for a daycare months before he was born in April 2020, they knew it would be a two-year wait for an opening in their Bathurst and St. Clair neighborhood. They were lucky in one place in August, even as a nearby nursery closed its doors.

The economic cost of the pandemic has caused a large loss of child care spaces in Ontario, where parental fees make up the majority of operating income. With the high cost of public health measures, parents who have left their children out of care, and tight margins for daycare providers, many were unable to continue operating.

“I think it’s deeply embarrassing,” Landry said, noting that the people who care for her son are all women of color, who are doing “super important work.” “I’ve completely lost faith in the system’s ability to… take care of caregivers,” he said.

Senior provincial government officials told the Star that Ottawa’s current offer of $ 10.2 billion would only lower Ontario’s regulated child care rates to $ 21 a day by the fifth year of the deal, much higher than the target. $ 10 per day set by Trudeau.

But in Edmonton, the prime minister pointed to Alberta’s $ 3.8 billion deal, which calls for the creation of 42,500 new nonprofit spaces, as “the kinds of things that show that when government orders work together, we can achieve very great things.

“It can be done,” he said. “The federal government is there with the money and the framework to do it, and we are very hopeful that Ontario will do it.”

The deal reached with Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney, one of Trudeau’s most critical political foes, will cover private, public and nonprofit operators, a provision that Kenney said came at the insistence of Alberta, and that Ontario wants too.

Robert Benzie is the bureau chief for Star’s Queen’s Park and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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