Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Liberals take step on national child-care system, promise plan coming in 2021 budget

Current federal spending on child care expires near the end of the decade

The federal government is proposing millions of dollars in new spending as a down payment on a planned national child-care system that the Liberals say will be outlined in next spring’s budget.

As a start, the Liberals are proposing in their fiscal update to spend $420 million in grants and bursaries to help provinces and territories train and retain qualified early-childhood educators.

The Liberals are also proposing to spend $20 million over five years to build a child-care secretariat to guide federal policy work, plus $15 million in ongoing spending for a similar Indigenous-focused body.

The money is meant to lay the foundation for what is likely going to be a big-money promise in the coming budget.

Current federal spending on child care expires near the end of the decade but the Liberals are proposing now to keep the money flowing, starting with $870 million a year in 2028.

The Canadian Press has previously reported that the government is considering a large annual spending increase as it contemplates how to work with provinces to add more child-care spaces while ensuring good learning environments and affordability for parents.

“I say this both as a working mother and as a minister of finance: Canada will not be truly competitive until all Canadian women have access to the affordable child care we need to support our participation in our country’s workforce,” Freeland said in the text of her speech on the fiscal update.

VIDEO: Liberals to unveil first step on child-care plan in economic update, sources say

Calling it an element of a “feminist agenda,” Freeland added that spending the money makes “sound business sense” and has the backing of many corporate leaders.

Freeland has been among a group of female cabinet ministers who pushed child care as a federal priority even before the pandemic.

A national system won’t likely be a one-size-fits-all program, experts say, but it would be federally funded, modelled on the publicly subsidized system in Quebec.

A Scotiabank estimate earlier this fall suggested that creating nationally what Quebec has provincially would cost $11.5 billion a year.

A report on prospects for national daycare last week from the Centre for Future Work estimated governments could rake in between $18 billion and $30 billion per year in new revenues as more parents go into the workforce.

Freeland has made a note in recent days about the need to do something on child care given how many women fell out of the workforce when COVID-19 forced the closures of schools and daycares in the spring.

Many have not gone back to work.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which has promoted a long-term plan on child care as an economic necessity, said the Liberals still need to provide immediate help to parents and daycare providers.

“The rate at which women are being forced to leave the workforce because of child-care gaps continues to undermine Canada’s economic recovery and requires emergency funding,” said chamber president Perrin Beatty.

Dec. 7 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which at the time called for governments to immediately get going on a national daycare system.

As Freeland noted during a virtual fundraiser last week, many women who were toddlers then are mothers now and the country hasn’t moved far enough on child care.

“Many smaller things are happening from province to province that when we look at those things, put them together, we’d have a lot of the elements for building a national system,” said Monica Lysack, an early-childhood education expert from Sheridan College in Ontario.

“We just need to make sure that in the end every parent who needs it can get it and that it’s affordable.”

READ MORE: National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

The $420 million in to train and retain them was seen by many as a key investment toward that end to deal with what the executive director of Child Care now noted were “very low wages and difficult working conditions” in the sector.

“But we must also see significant, long-term federal funding in the 2021 federal budget so that we can replace short-term repairs with robust infrastructure,” Morna Ballantyne said.

Her group and others have called for an extra $2 billion in child-care funding in next year’s budget, with $2 billion more added on top in each subsequent year.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ChildcareLiberals

Just Posted

President of the Tahltan Central Government, Chad Norman Day, surveys Tahltan territory by helicopter in this July 2019 handout photo. The Tahltan Nation and the British Columbia government have struck what officials say is a historic agreement for shared decision-making for the nation’s territory in northwestern B.C., a hot spot for mineral exploration. Day says the deal shows they are “getting closer and closer to a true nation-to-nation relationship.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Tahltan Central Government
Tahltan Nation, B.C. government sign agreement for shared decision-making

Deal commits the province and the northwest B.C. nation to developing a land-use plan

Hours of practice each day on the part of dancer Braya Kluss keeps her at a high performance level, someting reflected in the competitions she has won. (Submitted Photo)
Remote Tahltan community faces uncertainty with no ‘real’ timeline on Telegraph Creek Road

Provincial transportation ministry says the timeline for road repairs is ‘weather dependent’

Shown is a T-6 Harvard flown by Bud Granley, who has performed at the Vanderhoof Airshow “more times than any other performer,” said Anne Stevens. (Anne Stevens - Vanderhoof International Airshow Society)
Vanderhoof International Airshow a no-go for 2021

Airport open day planned for September

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
The train station in Smithers pulls into view in a 1959 video of a train trip from Vernon to Prince Rupert. (Screen shot)
VIDEO: Rare footage of Smithers in 1959 featured in train tour video

8mm film converted to video shows Vernon to Prince Rupert by train and Rupert to Vancouver by ship

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read