British Columbia

Federal, B.C. governments reach deal on child-care funding

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government has reached a deal with British Columbia on federal child-care funding.

Deal aims to create 30,000 new spaces in B.C. in the next 5 years

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, front left, and B.C. Premier John Horgan arrive for an announcement and news conference at Lafarge Lake Park, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Thursday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government has reached a deal with British Columbia on federal child-care funding.

The agreement stipulates that Ottawa will work with the province to reach an average of $10-per-day child care in regulated spaces for children under six years old before 2027, Trudeau said.

The deal aims to create 30,000 new spaces in B.C. in the next five years, with fees for regulated spaces cut in half by the end of 2022.

"If you're a parent, this landmark agreement led by the government of British Columbia and the federal government means that help is on the way,'' Trudeau told a news conference in Coquitlam, B.C.

Liberal child-care offer made in budget

B.C. is the first province to sign on to the Liberal offer laid out in the April budget, which pledged $27.2 billion over five years, starting this fiscal year, in new spending that the governing party aims to send to provinces to subsidize daycares.

The specific strings attached to the pledge will dictate what forms of child care could be eligible for federal funding, and how much parental fees must drop over the next five years.

The pandemic has laid bare that without good child care it is practically impossible for parents, especially mothers, to build a career, Trudeau said.

"Hard-working families deserve better and our economy deserves better as well,'' he said. "This is exactly what a feminist recovery looks like.''

The federal NDP says the Liberals have been promising child care since 1993 without following through, and that signs pointing to a likely election undermines the government's stated priority of helping parents.

Trudeau began his day behind closed doors in Metro Vancouver discussing B.C.'s wildfires and the recent punishing heat wave with members of his cabinet's Incident Response Group.

He is to spend much of the rest of the day in Coquitlam, where he will meet with B.C. Premier John Horgan, who joined him for the child-care announcement.

Province launched pilot program in 2017

After being elected in 2017, B.C.'s NDP government began a $10-a-day daycare pilot program and pledged during last fall's election campaign to expand the program provincewide.

Horgan said the pandemic only made more clear how vital child care is to the economy.

"If we did not have child-care spaces open and available, our communities would not function,'' he said.

The prime minister is also meeting with the mayor of Lytton and Indigenous leaders from that Fraser Canyon community this afternoon to discuss recovery from a wildfire that destroyed the village last week.

Trudeau is on a cross-country tour this week, following visits to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., as well as to Alberta and Saskatchewan.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh launched his own tour, starting on Vancouver Island.

Singh and local New Democrat member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor are set to make an announcement in Duncan, B.C., about the party's housing plan.

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