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Fact check: Liberal attacks against NDP child-care plan more rhetoric than truth

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The claim: The Liberals say the NDP's national child-care program will be impossible to implement. Is that true?

With Harper out in the stratosphere of the right wing, the Liberals and NDP are now vying to take the most votes among centrist voters. And nothing says "centrism" more than fighting an election campaign on something as fundamental as child care.

The NDP has promised to implement a national strategy that would ensure that no family would have to pay more than $15 a day per child for child care. This will be a huge relief for thousands of families who are paying several times that.

The NDP says that they will create one million childcare spaces at a cost of about $5 billion. The Liberals leaked an internal NDP briefing note that calls into question whether or not these numbers include current child-care spaces, though capping the costs of all child-care spaces in Canada, outside of Quebec (new and existing) at $15 would still provide significant and critical financial support for families.

The Liberals have promised a child-care strategy that would give money directly to more parents. They will create a new child benefit that is tax free and larger than what the Conservatives have offered. They will also fund a national child-care framework that would be paid, in part, through their $20 billion social infrastructure funding.

Claiming that the NDP's plans are impossible to implement is political mudslinging, not a statement rooted in fact. It will not be easy to implement, and it would require two consecutive NDP governments, but there are more than enough universal social programs (health care for example) that demonstrate that creating universal social programs is still possible.  

At the heart of this debate is a question about what is the best model: a universal system or one that provides a broad framework? It's a rhetorical question, not a factual one.

But history isn't on the Liberals' side. They had their chance to implement a child-care strategy: they made child care a priority at the end of nearly a decade in power, after having cut billions out of social programs. As a sponsorship scandal threatened to topple their government, the Liberals managed to get the provinces to agree on a child-care strategy. It ultimately failed as Martin's minority rule fell apart.

Liberals are still sore about this, blaming the NDP for not allowing Martin to continue to be Prime Minister.

Perhaps the most important part of the NDP promise isn't the details of the promise at all. It's the fact that a political party is honestly trying to make the largest investment in Canada's social safety after decades of cuts.



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