O'Toole is saying he will abandon Trudeau's national childcare program if he forms the government. O'Toole's growing popularity in the polls, therefore now raises the question whether this program will survive after the election, despite agreements having been reached with eight provinces. Of course the NDP and Greens, if elected in sufficient numbers could save the program, as it now seems increasingly unlikely that Trudeau will win a majority, or possibly the most seats.
It feels like we’ve been here before: on the brink of finally achieving a national child-care program in Canada — and then a snap election called for Sept. 20 risks sending all the plans to the shredder.
We enter this election with signed early learning and child-care agreements from eight provinces. But now there are questions about the fate of those deals, and what happens to the unsigned provinces if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gamble on a majority government fails.
But that’s where the historic analogy ends. The child-care plan contained in the 2021 budget is not a reboot of former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin’s program that succumbed to Stephen Harper’s 2006 Conservative victory.
For one thing, there’s a lot more money at stake and those provinces with signed agreements, many of whom topped up the federal money with their own contributions, are anxious to see them stick.
Today’s Liberals have shown more gumption than in 2005 when they caved in to provincial demands in their rush to get everyone on side before the opposition forced an election.
To date, Ottawa has stood firm on its criteria for non-profit delivery, better trained staff and — what they’re banking on as the vote-grabber — marked-down fees for parents. Any provincial proposals coming forward without these pillars get sent back to their respective capitals. ...
The pandemic has revealed many hidden truths, in particular the social and economic contributions of women with young children. The crisis closed schools and child-care facilities, forcing hundreds of thousands of women back into their homes, either to kitchen-table workspaces or unemployment. As economies gingerly open up, women will remain locked down without child care, leaving the economy precariously short of their skills.
Economists recognize the pandemic has created a “she-session” that will persist until women re-enter the paid workforce. Both major opposition parties have offered up child-care spending plans comparable to the Liberal initiative, making it doubtful that scuttling existing deals will be a priority, at least for the short term....
But what about the holdouts, the provinces that haven’t signed? Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole doesn’t want his provincial counterparts doing anything that would make Trudeau or his Liberals look good.
But some Conservative premiers, notably in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, have been unwilling to pass up the benefits of affordable child care for their constituents in exchange for bolstering O’Toole’s chances of becoming prime minister.
Loyalists include fellow Conservatives Jason Kenney in Alberta, Doug Ford in Ontario and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs, who have rejected Ottawa’s overtures and are holding out for the cash without strings. Kenney is particularly vexed that Québec closed a deal for its $6 billion share of the $30 billion fund with no restrictions. But cries of a “sweetheart deal” and demands for “equal treatment”expose a misunderstanding of federalism.