Where the childcare agreement is at — and where it isn’t

Members of Parliament in Ottawa are at odds over a bill to improve childcare services. The legislation aims to create a national child care system that would provide eight hours a day of guaranteed daycare for each child and be funded in one lump sum — one that would automatically kick in when it reaches its full funding level after 10 years. The house passed the bill with a vote of 198 to 107 in June.

But the same legislation excludes the province of Ontario — Ontario includes the health care system and the province’s premier Kathleen Wynne’s signature public transit proposal in the deal. Wynne’s refusal to sign off on the bill means that as of now there is no childcare funding deal between Ottawa and Ontario.

The current version of the bill aims to fund daycare for each child by creating a national daycare payment of $7.50 per day in the first year of the legislation, followed by a freeze on the funding for 10 years. But despite Wynne’s rejection of the bill, insiders say she is willing to find a solution.

“Senior officials from the offices of the prime minister and Ontario Premier Wynne will meet next week in Ottawa to build upon an ongoing dialogue between our countries,” Martin Rudner, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s press secretary, said in a statement.

Wynne is expected to return to Toronto Tuesday to attend the Liberal party’s convention, but it’s unclear whether any childcare discussions will be scheduled at the event.

“Obviously it’s frustrating for families that aren’t getting access to what we need. That is the difficulty and that’s why we are looking for an agreement to improve the situation,” Leslie Jones, the B.C. MPP for Toronto-Danforth, told Radio Canada.

According to the proposed deal, daycare centres would be funded on a provincial-by-province basis as well as federally-funded daycare programs. In an interview on Wednesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the proposal to set up a national childcare funding system would be put on hold until the federal election, planned for 2019. The inclusion of the transit program, he said, meant that the bill was too similar to last year’s budget and that it would not solve the childcare crisis, in Ontario or nationally.

“What I can say for sure is that the federal government as a party has a 100 percent commitment to putting more money into the childcare system,” Morneau said. “A year from now, after the election, is when I will look at the details of the bill and whether that really does what needs to be done to help working families across Canada.”

Asked if any pre-election update would be given on childcare policy, Morneau responded, “Certainly the commitment to improving the childcare system will remain.”

Wynne’s office responded to that statement, saying that the Ontario government will “meet with the federal government in Ottawa next week,” and provide a response to the Liberals’ proposal.

Read the full story at Radio Canada.


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