Canadian taxpayers are paying the wages of two nannies hired to care for the children of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, according to cabinet orders posted online.
The hirings were approved late last week, with cabinet authorizing the appointment of the two women under the Official Residences Act as "special assistants at the prime minister's residence."
They will be paid between $15 and $20 an hour during the day and $11 to $13 an hour for night shifts effective Nov. 4 — the day Trudeau and his cabinet were sworn in.
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The disclosure comes after an election campaign where Trudeau repeatedly attacked the Conservatives' enhanced universal child care benefit, or UCCB, and income splitting for families, arguing rich families like his and former prime minister Stephen Harper's didn't need taxpayers' help.
"In these times, Mr. Harper's top priority is to give wealthy families like his and mine $2,000," Trudeau said in reference to the Conservatives' income-splitting tax credit. "Let me tell you something: We don't need it. And Canada can't afford it."
Trudeau is also entitled to collect annual UCCB payments of about $3,400 for his three children.
He promised to give the money to charity.
Nanny posted pics of kids online
One of the women hired was with the Trudeaus this past week on the prime minister's foreign trip that wrapped up Monday at the UN climate change conference in Paris. She posted photos online of the couple's two children who came on the trip.
There were also shots of her with the Trudeaus' youngest child on Facebook visiting museums and at the hotel where they stayed in Paris.
The prime minister's director of communications, Kate Purchase, said in an email that the two women who have been hired are doing more than childcare.
"Like all families of prime ministers, a small number of staff provide assistance. Given the nature of the prime minister's responsibilities and his young family, the Trudeaus employ two household employees who, in addition to performing other duties around the house, act as secondary caregivers to the three children," Purchase said.
Section 7.1 of the Official Residence Act says cabinet may appoint "a steward or housekeeper and such other employees" deemed necessary for the management of the prime minister's residence.
This isn't the first time questions have been raised about whether taxpayers were footing the bill for child care.
The issue arose in May 1984 when then Conservative leader Brian Mulroney was asked by a television interviewer if taxpayers would pay for ''nannies'' for his three children as they did for Trudeau's father, Pierre Trudeau, when he was prime minister.
"No, no," Mulroney replied.
The Canadian Press reported again in November of that year that Mulroney's chief of staff, Fred Doucet, denied the family employed a government-paid nanny while Mulroney was opposition leader, saying the woman was actually a maid who "interfaces with the children in a habitual way."