Politics

Trudeau promises more before-school and after-school program spaces

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has pledged his party would create hundreds of thousands of new before- and after-school spaces and lower the costs of child care for families if it forms government after the Oct. 21 federal election.

'Justin Trudeau said he would make child care affordable, but he broke that promise,' says Jagmeet Singh

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau sits in with students in a classroom at Sandowne Public School in Waterloo, Ont., on Monday. He was announcing a pledge for new funding for before and after-school spaces and child care if the Liberals are elected to form a government on Oct. 21. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has pledged his party would create hundreds of thousands of new before- and after-school spaces and lower the costs of child care for families if it forms government after the Oct. 21 federal election.

"Parents shouldn't have to worry about finding quality child care that won't break the bank," Trudeau said at a campaign stop at a Waterloo, Ont., public school library.

If elected, Trudeau said a Liberal government would create up to 250,000 more before- and after-school spaces for kids under the age of 10, and lower fees by ten per cent across the country. 

The plan also would set aside a portion of the new spaces to provide more child care options for parents who work overtime, late shifts or multiple jobs, the Liberal leader added, claiming that the changes would save "a family with two kids living here in Ontario ... about $800 a year."

Trudeau also said a re-elected Liberal government would establish a secretariat to "work with the provinces" to "lay the groundwork for a pan-Canadian child care system."

Trudeau is campaigning in southwestern Ontario this morning before heading to Windsor for a rally later in the day. In Waterloo, he was asked by reporters why he hadn't taken media questions for days and whether he would promise to take questions daily for the remainder of the campaign.

"I'm happy to be taking questions today, happy to be talking to Canadians," he said, committing only to taking media questions "on a regular basis."

The Liberal policy announcement comes after Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer unveiled a new tax cut plan Sunday that he said would save taxpayers hundreds of dollars a year.

National child care framework

The promise would cost at least $535 million per year, on top of what the federal government is already sending to provinces for child care.

The Liberals promised in 2015 to create a national child care framework they said would make sure "affordable, high-quality, fully inclusive child care" is available to everyone who needs it.

The Liberal government signed a multilateral deal with all provinces and territories — except Quebec, which has its own universal child care system — and committed $7.5 billion over 11 years to child care in the 2017 federal budget.

The framework set out broad parameters for spending the money — quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity — but largely left the provinces and territories in charge of deciding how it would be spent.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford — the target of many of Trudeau's attacks as the Liberal leader works to link the controversial Progressive Conservative premier to federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer — said last month his government would move ahead with planned cuts to child care.

Doug Ford and child care funding

As of Jan. 1, municipalities in Ontario will have to pay 20 per cent of the cost of creating new child care spaces which previously were fully funded by the province.

Earlier this month, Trudeau told the Toronto Star that the provinces should be the ones to decide whether they do more.

"Of course the federal government can be there as a partner, but we can't take on things that fundamentally it's been shown can be ably led and should be ably led by the provinces," he told the editorial board of the newspaper, praising Quebec for establishing its own universal child care program.

Asked about those comments Monday, Trudeau said he still believes the federal government has a role to play in child care.

"Provinces have a really important role to play and they need to continue to step up, but the federal government will be there as well," he said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused Trudeau of breaking his 2015 election promise on child care and said he has "passed the buck to provincial governments."

"Justin Trudeau said he would make child care affordable, but he broke that promise," Singh said in a media statement.

"Just a few days ago, Justin Trudeau was telling Canadians that child care was a provincial responsibility. It's clear that people who are struggling with high child care costs can't trust Justin Trudeau's pretty words and empty promises."

With Files from The Canadian Press

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