Ottawa’s squeeze is to bring all provinces into its childcare plan

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During a virtual discussion on child care in Ottawa on April 21, 2021, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Crystalline Freeland talks.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau’s government has committed $ 30 billion toward creating a national childcare program, but the trick is no longer going back to 2005.

A Liberal government under Paul Martin tried to build a coast-to-coast child-care program last year, but clashed in political battles over whether it is better to fund day by day or Parents have to send money directly.

Mr. Martin’s government lost that debate, or at least it lost in the early 2006 election, and Stephen Harper’s protege struck down childcare agreements and began investigating childcare.

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Now another Liberal government is trying with more money, and some opponents are gearing up to make the same case, using the kind of language Mr. Harper’s Tories rejected the value of daycare programs 15 years ago Had done it.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney criticized the federal initiative, saying, “It is only for one type of cookie-cutter, nine-to-five, urban, government and federally-run institutional daycare options.”

This means that political strategy is needed to make Mr. Trudeau’s proposal of liberals successful. Child care is provincial jurisdiction, so they are required to premiere such as Mr. Kenny on the board.

Federal Minister for Family, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussain is promising goodwill talks. In an interview, he said that none of the provinces expressed “outright opposition” to a Canadian child care system, and they simply say they want flexibility. “I have no problem with that,” Mr. Hussain said.

But the provinces have a different view of what flexibility means. Many want their costs for child care tax credits to pay attention to their share of child care programs. Mr. Kenny’s statements show that he used to send checks to parents. Not so in Ottawa’s mind.

“We intend to create a Canada-wide system that provides deep affordability for parents, but also ensures high quality and access and inclusivity,” Mr. Hussain said.

How can you play with the Ottawa provinces? Mr. Hussain would not say. But the Fed has one strategy: a squeeze game.

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This means that some provinces are quickly making a promise that their constituents will see deep cuts in childcare charges starting next year. Premiors who do not sign up will have components to surprise when they are missed out.

This type of forced use of federal spending power in provincial jurisdictions has outpaced the provinces for years. But the unanimous legal view is that Ottawa faced some hurdles, said Hoi Kong, a law professor at the University of British Columbia – and those who disagree have not made a successful challenge in the courts.

Some premiers, such as John Horgan of British Columbia, have already promised concessional childcare extensions to their residents – so the Fed will effectively pay for its promises. They are in a hurry to sign up.

Ottawa is mostly offering to foot the bill. Finance Minister Christiana Freeland’s budget spoke of a 50–50 cost-sharing initiative with the provinces, but this meant Ottawa would pour in nearly $ 27.2 billion in new funds over the next five years.

Quebec is unlikely to be held in provincial jurisdiction against federal intrusion; Its child care program already meets most of the conditions, so it will effectively offer stacks of cash for the things it already does.

Therefore Ottawa can deal with some provinces while others remain outside. He may be Ontario. Or Saskatchewan. Very likely, Mr. Kenny’s Alberta.

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Of course, they can tell Mr. Trudeau that child care is provincial jurisdiction, and he may get lost. But outside of Quebec, Canadians do not care much for that argument. Their constituents may simply ask why they are refusing to take federal cash.

Mr. Trudeau’s liberals know that this is their main political weapon: the political pressures that prevent the Premier will be confronted by their own constituents.

The April budget slipped into an interesting goal: a 50 percent reduction in daycare fees by the end of 2022 in all provinces except Quebec. Does Ontario Premier Doug Ford want to convince suburban parents that he is refusing federal cash to reduce his fees, when a year is an election year?

There is a lot of room to deal between now and then. Mr. Ford has a lot to gain if Ottawa accepts a provincial tax credit as the cost of child care, and then can increase them while cutting daycare fees. And for those premieres who still won’t sign, Ottawa plans to make them feel squeamish.


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