Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government has reached a deal with British Columbia on federal child-care funding.
Trudeau says the agreement stipulates Ottawa will work with the province to reach an average of $10-per-day child care in regulated spaces for children under six years old before 2027.
He says the deal aims to create 30,000 new spaces in B.C. in the next five years, with fees for regulated spaces cut in half by the end of 2022.
B.C. marks the first province to sign on to the Liberal offer laid out in the April budget, which pledged $27.2 billion over five years, starting this fiscal year, in new spending that the governing party aims to send to provinces to subsidize daycares.
The specific strings attached to the pledge will dictate what forms of child care could be eligible for federal funding, and how much parental fees must drop over the next five years.
The federal NDP says Liberals have been promising child care since 1993 without following through, and that signs of getting ready for a likely election to undermine the government’s stated priority of helping parents.
Trudeau began his day behind closed doors in Metro Vancouver discussing B.C.’s wildfires and recent punishing heat wave with members of his cabinet’s Incident Response Group.
He is to spend much of the rest of the day in Coquitlam, where he will meet with B.C. Premier John Horgan, who joined him for the child-care announcement.
The prime minister is also holding an afternoon meeting with the mayor of Lytton and Indigenous leaders from that Fraser Canyon community to discuss recovery from a wildfire that destroyed the village last week.
Trudeau is on a cross-country tour this week, following visits to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and to Alberta and Saskatchewan. Political experts say the tour is likely an unofficial kickoff for an election campaign.
“This will be a campaign that will go unofficially for another week or two, maybe a bit longer, maybe well into August and then we’ll get the real official campaign but there is no doubt about it we’re into campaign mode right now,” said University of Victoria political scientist Michael Prince.
Rob Shaw on today’s child care announcement
While Trudeau refuses to comment on whether he’ll call a fall election, Prince says the timing makes sense.
“The polls are showing a shift again in his favour and he’d like to get back into a majority government and regain a control over Parliament and the agenda of policymaking,” he said.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh launched his own tour Thursday, starting in Duncan in the riding held by NDP MP Alistair MacGregor.
“We’re just meeting with people, connecting with folks, hearing what they have to say and sharing some of the things we’ve done,” Singh told CHEK News.
While he says his party will be ready if an election is called, Singh says now is not the time.
“Right now we should be focused on getting past this pandemic, we should be focused on getting everyone vaccinated, and focused on a recovery,” he said.
Prince says seeing both leaders in B.C. isn’t surprising since it could become a critical battleground in the next election, especially with the Conservatives under Erin O’Toole failing to gain much traction with Canadians.
“B.C. becomes a fascinating province, we might decide whether it will be a majority or a minority government, once we get an election call,” Prince said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2021.