Politics

Coming deal on national child care will compel provinces to expand services

Provinces won't be able to use federal child care funding to subsidize their own programs under the terms of a national framework set to be unveiled in the coming days.

Liberals to stump up $7B in new child care funding, $500M this year increasing to $870M annually by 2026

A Manitoba cabinet order lays out the broad details of the child care framework expected to be released Monday when provincial and territorial leaders meet in Ottawa. (CBC)

Provinces won't be able to use federal child-care funding to subsidize their own programs under the terms of a national framework set to be unveiled in the coming days.

Instead, the Trudeau government wants provinces and territories to use new funding on regulated operations geared specifically for families in need and children under the age of six.

A recently released Manitoba cabinet order lays out the broad details of the framework to be released Monday when provincial and territorial leaders meet in Ottawa to sign the parameters for individual funding deals.

No funding agreements are expected to be unveiled Monday.

A spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the framework is to be discussed at Monday's meeting, but offered no other details about the agenda.

5 principles

The national child care framework sets out the governing principles for the 10-year child-care spending plan the government unveiled in March: quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity.

The Liberals have been negotiating the overarching framework for more than a year with the provinces and territories, seeking common ground in an area of provincial and territorial jurisdiction with different systems in place across the country.

The agreement will make note of that division of power and that provinces and territories will be able to determine their early learning and child-care investment priorities.

The March budget outlined $7 billion in new child-care funding from the federal government, starting with $500 million this fiscal year and increasing to $870 million annually by 2026.

The spending has been criticized for being less than what the Paul Martin Liberals offered provinces more than 10 years ago in a deal that was ultimately scuttled when the previous Conservative government came to office.

Targeted funding

The Manitoba document puts more detail to the budget pledge.

The document says funding deals with provinces will ensure they focus on local and regional needs "that impact families more in need," specifically families that are low-income, Indigenous, lone-parent or in under-served communities.

The funding is also being targeted at families with parents that work non-standard hours or those with children with disabilities.

The Liberals will require provinces to identify where they plan to use federal money as part of individual funding agreements that "result in concrete, incremental improvements" to provincial child-care systems and publicly report annually on progress.

The Liberals have told provinces that they must use the funding to "build on" — "not replace or displace," the order reads — existing spending in regulated child care.

The deal will not require provinces and territories to match federal funding.

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