Quebec’s no-strings-attached federal funding for child care has Alberta fuming.
On Thursday, Ottawa announced that Quebec would receive $6 billion over five years in connection with Ottawa’s national child-care program, and the money comes without conditions. Quebec can spend it how it pleases.
“This is the exact arrangement Ottawa rejected when Alberta asked for it this week and last week. Furthermore, when we asked Ottawa if any province would receive a straight transfer of child care dollars with no conditions attached, we were told no,” said Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz in a statement.
“This is dishonest, bad-faith negotiating from Ottawa right before an election.”
Schulz said Alberta believes it can reduce child care fees to $10 per day, or less for low-income families, and cut fees by an average of half, as well as respecting the choices that many parents make including out-of-school care and overnight child care.
“That’s why we asked for the flexibility Quebec received today.”
She said Alberta has an action plan that meets the goals of the federal government and is flexible enough to meet the needs of Alberta parents.
“We are optimistic that given Alberta’s continued investments in child care, and the renewed bilateral agreement signed last month, we can come to a new agreement quickly. Our economic recovery and working parents, especially women across this province, are counting on it,” Schulz said.
The prime minister said his government’s national plan was inspired by Quebec’s child-care network and that it can give Quebec the money without strings attached because Quebec’s system has already achieved the federal government’s goals.
Canada has already signed child-care deals with British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Yukon, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador — ahead of what reports say could be an end-of-summer federal election campaign. Trudeau said the various agreements with provinces outside Quebec will allow them to create $10-dollar-a-day child care places in a few years and raise wages for educators.
— With files from The Canadian Press