Alberta premier attacks Trudeau as province signs 10-day child custody deal
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Posted on Monday, November 15, 2021 at 5:28 am EST
Last updated Monday, November 15, 2021 at 5:05 p.m. EST
EDMONTON – Alberta signed on to Ottawa’s $ 10-a-day child care program, but not before Premier Jason Kenney dismissed the federal contribution as recycled provincial money and accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of gambling to favorites.
“This deal means that $ 3.8 billion in taxes paid by Albertans in Ottawa goes to Albertans to meet a key priority for so many families,” Kenney said, with Trudeau at his side, on Monday at a event at a downtown YMCA.
The United Conservative Prime Minister accused Trudeau of playing the favorites by giving Quebec a child custody deal with more flexibility, while Alberta had to fight to get what it saw as a good deal for its mix of caregivers. More than half of the current care spaces in Alberta are in private companies.
âThis isn’t the only time we’ve seen what appears to be a two tier federation,â Kenney said.
âThe fundamental aspiration of Albertans is to be treated on an equal footing, to have the same powers as Quebec exercises and the same treatment from the federal government, which includes unconditional funding when there is has national policy objectives.
This comment prompted Trudeau to step onto the podium to point out that Quebec was not receiving heart treatment.
He said Quebec’s plan has already met federal program targets and, in fact, exceeded them with child care at $ 8.50 a day.
“It made no sense for us to impose conditions (on Quebec) that they have already exceeded,” Trudeau said. âIt’s not about treating a province differently.
âIf Alberta had ever had $ 8 a day child care across the province, we would have had a similar approach to Quebec, so let’s not create constitutional conventions out of that.
Kenney has often criticized the federal Liberal government for treating Alberta unfairly in Confederation. He said Albertans contribute generously to the rest of Canada through equalization, but are at times blocked by federal policies that restrict the development of the province’s oil and gas industry.
The bilateral agreement provides for federal funding of $ 3.8 billion over the next five years. Child care costs are to be halved starting next year and brought down to an average of $ 10 a day by 2026.
The agreement also provides for the creation of 42,500 new regulated learning and childcare places.
âWithin five years, $ 10 a day child care will be a reality across the province,â Trudeau said.
âIt will make a huge difference in the lives of all families, but also in our economic recovery. “
The choice of child care had been a sticking point in the negotiations between Ottawa and Alberta.
Kenney said the agreement with Alberta will make the grants eligible for all types of licensed child care facilities up to the age of six.
“The province has reached an agreement to allow parents in Alberta to have the type of child care that is best for them, which has been a key part of any agreement this government would sign,” he said. .
The agreement aims to fund services and increase the workforce for early childhood teachers.
The money will also be used to support child care for children with disabilities or special needs as well as a plan to work with Indigenous organizations to develop child care programs best suited to their needs.
The federal government has bilateral child care agreements at $ 10 per day with nine provinces and territories. Ontario, New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have yet to sign.
The Trudeau government announced the five-year, $ 30 billion plan in the spring as the cornerstone of an initiative to help families and move the economy forward.
Rakhi Pancholi, Alberta’s opposition critic for children’s services, said the deal is similar to that proposed by the NDP caucus in July.
The deal should have been done much sooner for the benefits to flow faster, she said. It was only the persistent public demands that broke the deadlock, she added.
âAt the end of the day, Albertans told UCP that this affordable child care program was important to them,â said Pancholi. âThe UCP has never been on board, they dragged their feet, but Albertans have raised their voices loud and clear to get us to where we are today. “
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 15, 2021.