Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Provinces balk at Liberals’ child-care budget pledge as funding negotiations loom

OTTAWA — Multiple provincial governments are questioning the Liberals’ promise of a national child-care system, saying they either feel the strings on the cash are too tight, or won’t necessarily help their provinces.

Yesterday’s federal budget outlined $27.2 billion over five years, starting this fiscal year, in new spending the Liberals want to send to provinces to subsidize daycares.

The specific strings attached on the spending pledge would dictate what forms of child-care could be eligible for federal funding, and how much parental fees must drop.

Alberta and Ontario have already said the proposed measures don’t meet the unique needs of parents in their provinces, while New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs wondered if the money is aimed at buying votes in large urban centres.

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin was more open to the funding, but wants to see more details of the Trudeau Liberals’ plan.

The responses mark the opening lines in negotiations the Liberals will need to have with provinces to create a national system, if Parliament approves the minority government’s first budget in two years.

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