Saskatchewan

Sask. NDP puts pressure on government to partner with Ottawa on child care

The federal government is looking to partner with provinces to increase spaces and lower fees. Other provinces have already signed on for the child-care investment.

Province says it is in negotiations with the federal government

NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Carla Beck, the party's education and early learning critic, were joined by local parents and child-care advocates in Saskatoon on Friday, calling on the provincial government to sign on to a federal child-care agreement. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

The Opposition NDP is calling on the Saskatchewan government to immediately sign on to a national child-care strategy.

The federal government is looking to partner with provinces to increase spaces and lower fees. Two other provinces have already signed on for the child-care investment.

British Columbia will implement a $10 a day system and 30,000 new child-care spaces after reaching a funding agreement with Ottawa. Nova Scotia announced a similar deal this week

The Liberal government's offer was laid out in the April federal budget, which pledged $27.2 billion over five years, starting this fiscal year, in new spending to help provinces 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.

At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the pandemic made it clear that without good child care it is practically impossible for parents, especially mothers, to build a career. 

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Carla Beck, the Opposition's education and early learning critic, echoed that message at a press conference in Saskatoon Friday morning. The politicians were joined by parents and child-care advocates who spoke about the pressures families are facing. 

Meili said the province is dragging its feet in building a strong child-care system. 

"What [Premier] Scott Moe doesn't get is that a child-care plan is also a job plan. It's a growth plan," said Meili. 

"The more we invest in good quality spaces and in jobs in our child-care system here in the province, the more we can get families back to work building a real Saskatchewan recovery."

'Do I pay rent or do I pay child care?'

Beck said the governing Saskatchewan Party is out of step with the needs of families, and especially mothers who need to get back to earning an income. 

"Frankly, we don't want to see Saskatchewan lose out on this once-in-a-generation opportunity. We have every right to fear, unfortunately, that the … government is not taking this opportunity seriously," said Beck. 

Beverly Fullerton, a Saskatoon mother of seven, says an entire paycheque goes to paying for child care each month. (CBC)

Beverly Fullerton, a Saskatoon mother of seven, hopes the government agrees to a plan that makes child care more affordable.

"I am making my way in a community that was set up for me to fail. I've been through the systems that have failed me. So for me to have a job where I can provide for my children, that's my No. 1 priority," said Fullerton.

"But to be able to have that, I need to have child care that I can rely on for my children. You stay at home with your children because you cannot find child care that you can afford. Do I pay rent or do I pay child care?"

Fullerton says that right now, she spends an entire paycheque on child care each month. 

In negotiations

Following the NDP's call for action, the province said in a statement that it has submitted a child-care proposal that "meets all of the federal governments objectives while providing flexibility and choice for Saskatchewan families."

The province says it continues to negotiate with the federal government, and hopes to create "high quality, affordable and inclusive child-care options for parents and families."

"We look forward to receiving approval on Saskatchewan's plan and build[ing] on the significant work that has already been achieved in this province," the statement said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. She holds a Master of Journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now