'Rich' Justin Trudeau should pay for own nannies, Rona Ambrose says
Prime Minister's Office says the number of official household staff will not increase, despite nanny hires
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a rich man who should pay for his own nannies and not saddle taxpayers with the cost of raising his three young children.
"Mr. Trudeau repeatedly, repeatedly said, 'I am wealthy,' Mr. Trudeau said, 'My family is rich, we don't need to use taxpayer dollars for our child care.' And now he is," Ambrose told reporters Wednesday after her party's caucus meeting.
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CBC News reported Monday that taxpayers are paying the wages of two nannies who care for the children of Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. 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.
The women will earn between $15 and $20 an hour for work during the day and a lower amount when working at night.
The sticking point for the Tory leader is that Trudeau campaigned on cancelling child-care benefits for wealthy families — like his own — who he said didn't need the extra money to pay for child care.
Leading up to the Oct. 19 general election, Trudeau vowed to scrap the Conservative government's Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and replace it with a means-tested program his party has since named the Canada Child Benefit, which will offer more generous benefits to families with a combined annual household income of less than $200,000.
Trudeau is entitled to a $3,400 cheque under the Conservative plan, but he has said he'll donate those funds to charity.
"He said he was going to cancel child-care benefits to Canadians ... so people are asking the question: Why? Why are you having taxpayers pay for your nannies? You said you're rich, you said you don't need it, so he has to answer that question now," Ambrose said.
The interim leader insisted she isn't passing any "judgment" on the Trudeaus, and how they choose to raise their children, rather it's more a matter of respect for taxpayer funds.
"I think a lot of people across the country — taxpayers — are offended that he won't pay for his own child care."
Trudeau has also pledged to hike taxes on the wealthiest Canadians and usher in a "middle-class tax cut," for those Canadians with a taxable annual income between $44,700 and $89,401. The Liberals have said that change will be their first piece of legislation when the House of Commons returns.
Ambrose said that the public expects some perks for their political leaders, but they draw the line at luxuries like nannies.
"There are a lot of things that are provided to leaders of the opposition, to members of Parliament, ministers, to prime ministers, to support them in their public role, but I do think people believe far and wide that he should pay for his own nannies."
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair echoed that sentiment saying that "of course" the government provides some staff to the prime minister, but he said it was "surprising" that one of Trudeau's "first official acts" was to provide him and his family with taxpayer-funded child care.
The Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday that the total number of people working at Rideau Cottage, the prime minister's residence, will not increase despite the two recent nanny hires.
"The prime minister will not expand the household staff of the prime minister's residence. He will be adapting the staff complement to suit his family's requirements, given he is the proud father of three young children. It is an ongoing process and will be finalized in the coming days," Kate Purchase, the PM's director of communications said in an e-mail to CBC News.
A senior Liberal source told CBC News that the Trudeaus have yet to finalize other members of the household staff, saying they had to move quickly to get the nannies on the public payroll because the family was about to leave for a string of international leaders' summits.
With files from Catherine Cullen