Ford, Trudeau fight over $10 a day child care heats up
The fight between Ontario and Ottawa over a $10-a-day child-care program seems to be ramping up as the two governments point fingers over which side is holding up the negotiations.
On Monday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the federal government’s current proposal -- $10.2 billion over five years -- “short changes families” and doesn’t account for the province’s full-day kindergarten program.
The minister said while the Trudeau and Ford governments “can still land a deal” the federal offer is $3.6 billion short -- and the province is working on “detailed modelling” which will make it clear that Ontario isn’t receiving enough of the $30 billion program.
“Anyone that looks at the numbers will make clear that the program they’ve offered Ontario will not just shortchange Ontario, but would not get us $10 [a day],” Lecce insisted. “Not in year one, not in year five, not in year six.”
The federal government fired back, however, insisting that the province hasn’t shared its detailed cost analysis of $10-a day childcare.
Karina Gould, the minister of families, children and social development, said the federal government sent a term paper to provinces and territories seven months ago asking for a strategy to reduce fees and create spaces – but has yet to hear back.
Instead, Lecce said his office sent a letter to the federal government last week highlighting a desire to see a more sustainable program with long-term funding commitments in place.
“We do not [want to] see a program that is viable for five years and then declines in year six, fees hike and parents ultimately pay the price,” Lecce said.
Gould said while the province welcomes the letter she’s “still waiting for more details from the Province of Ontario.”
The pressure to sign a deal was amplified on Monday after Alberta signed on with the federal government – making it the eight province to have a formal agreement.
“This means that all types of licensed child care for kids up to kindergarten like preschools, daycare, and licensed family day homes will now be supported through this deal with the federal government,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
While Ontario and New Brunswick are now the only provinces that have yet to ink a deal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that the two sides can come to an agreement.
“It can be done. The federal government is there with the money and the framework to do it, and we’re very hopeful that Ontario will do it,” Trudeau said during a joint news conference with Kenney.
Critics of the Ford government, however, believe the province is attempting to upload portions of the education budget to the federal government by including full-day kindergarten in the deal.
“I can’t figure out why Minister Lecce and Doug Ford think that this child-care money should help the provincial government’s bottom line instead of a family’s bottom line,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care agreed with the sentiment and said the money is to make a difference for families, rather than fund existing provincial initiatives.
“The money is for lowering child care fees, not for giving Ontario a cookie!” The coalition said on social media.
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