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CBC News Online | Updated April 27, 2005

[Note: On April 26, the Liberals and New Democrats reached an agreement-in-principle that the Liberal minority government will make changes to its 2005 budget in exchange for NDP support. The changes can be found here.]

Budget plan: a commitment of $5 billion over five years for early learning child care.
Ottawa pledges $5B for national child care

In his budget Wednesday, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale handed fellow cabinet minister Ken Dryden something to take to the provinces: a commitment of $5 billion over five years for early learning child care.

Although the federal social development minister failed to wrangle an agreement with provinces earlier this month for a national system of child care, Goodale's budget set aside $700 million in a trust fund this year and next for just such a program.

Beginning in 2007-2008, Ottawa will increase its commitment to $1.2 billion over the following three years.

Provinces will be able to draw from the Early Learning and Child Care fund on a per capita basis, once an agreement is in place.

Of the $5-billion total, $100 million is being specifically set aside for on-reserve First Nations.

At their meeting last month with Dryden, the provincial and territorial premiers said they wanted to see Ottawa come up with the money before they agreed to anything.

More than that, they were seeking a commitment beyond five years, arguing the dangers of setting up a system that doesn't have ongoing funding.

Goodale acknowledged these concerns in the budget speech, saying, "We understand with our provincial and territorial partners that federal support will need to be ongoing beyond these initial years."

However, the budget doesn't commit to anything beyond 2009-10.


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