Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Liberals set to kick-start talks on new child-care system and funding, Hussen says

Liberals set to kick-start talks on new child-care system and funding, Hussen says

OTTAWA — Two key federal cabinet ministers marked the anniversary of a landmark report on women’s issues in Canada with a political push for a national daycare system, encouraging provinces and MPs to not stand in the way of the revived promise.

It was 50 years ago Monday that the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada released its final report, which called on all levels of government to immediately start work on national child-care system.

The Liberals, who promised a universal daycare system on the campaign trail in 1993, have once again pledged to deliver on that goal. The Liberals put some money toward that end in the fall economic statement tabled late last month, but getting there will take time and negotiations with provinces about the fine details of how a program would look.

Families Minister Ahmed Hussen said in an interview Monday that the Liberals would be as “accommodating as possible” during what he agreed could be challenging talks.

He argued that provincial and federal politicians should be onside with the essence of what the government wants to put in place — the federal New Democrats in particular.

The Liberals have long sought to pin blame on the NDP for siding with other opposition parties to bring down the minority Paul Martin government in 2005, which ended talks towards a national child-care system at the time.

“Ultimately, it’s about the kids and it’s about the parents so that they can go back to work and have access to truly affordable child care, because that’s the biggest pressure on all levels of government,” Hussen said.

He added that “politicians in this country need to support this effort.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered a similar message Monday during an appearance on CTV talk show The Social, as the Liberals vie for public backing for a plan they have yet to fully form.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the Liberals need to look in the mirror to find someone to blame for why the country still lacks universal child care.

“They’ve had the ability and the time to bring in place universal child care and they simply have not done it,” Singh said Monday on Parliament Hill.

“Right now, they’re not showing a commitment to universal child care. They’re not even showing a commitment to keeping the existing level of child care. Let that be very clear.”

Child-care experts suggest a national system could take years to create, including building new infrastructure to accommodate the more than two million spaces that are estimated to be needed for widespread coverage, and training new staff.

Freeland acknowledged a longer time frame when asked about a five-year spend on a child-care secretariat to build policy capacity inside the federal government.

“It’s going to take time,” Freeland said in the television interview.

“I’m not going to promise instant results. That’s impossible and would be dishonest.”

The Liberals have promised $420 million to train and retain early childhood educators, the specifics of which will be subject to negotiations with provinces, Hussen said.

That would mean provincial needs would determine how many staff get retained through wage increases, or students trained through the help of bursaries.

Talks will start over the coming months on how that money will be used while at the same time negotiations push ahead on funding arrangements set to expire in March for existing child-care dollars.

“We have to do two things: continue the current supports through and beyond COVID, but on a parallel track, negotiate and try to establish this national system as early as possible,” Hussen said.

Hussen suggested the current agreements could be used as a platform for a national system, including expectations for how provinces report on spending, how the money can be used and the number of spaces protected or created.

Accountability in a national system would follow the same lines, “if not introduce even more expectations of higher levels of accountability,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2020.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Childcare

Just Posted

An incredible closing ceremony capped off the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (File photo by SUSAN JUDGE/2019 Canada Winter Games)
2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society hands out $655,000

35 not-for-profit groups across Alberta to get money

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, says COVID ICU patients have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past month. (Photo by The Government of Alberta)
Record number of people in ICU: says AHS president

The head of Alberta Health Services says hospital staff are treating more… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

Alexander Michael Talbot, 29, was found guilty of operating a vehicle while prohibited, flight from police and vehicle theft in Red Deer provincial court recently. (Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases in central Alberta last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Canada's Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5 during the CP International competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Canada's most decorated show jumper has withdrawn from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse questions a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Nurse says it was the COVID-19 outbreak in March that spiked his team's chances for a post-season run.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O'Meara
Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Danielle Goyette speaks to reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2017. Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal (11) falls on Nashville Predators center Yakov Trenin (13) during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Staal, Niederreiter lift Hurricanes past Predators 5-2

Staal, Niederreiter lift Hurricanes past Predators 5-2

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) watches the puck get past Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) on a shot by Washington Capitals right wing Garnet Hathaway during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Monday, May 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marchand scores in OT, Bruins beat Capitals to even series

Marchand scores in OT, Bruins beat Capitals to even series

Toronto Maple Leafs former players Darryl Sittler, centre, Johnny Bower, centre right, are joined by Ted Kennedy's son Mark for a ceremonial puck drop with Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov, left, and Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf, right, before NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, October 8, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Leafs, Canadiens legends eagerly awaiting playoff series

Leafs, Canadiens legends eagerly awaiting playoff series

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Western MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

Western MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

Most Read