LILLEY: Trudeau daycare offer shortchanges Ontario by billions – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Brian Lilley

Publishing date:

Nov 12, 2021  •  4 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  8 Comments

Daycare
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The Trudeau government is desperate to sign a childcare deal with the Ford government in Ontario or turn the issue into a political weapon.

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That much has been made clear as Karina Gould, the newly-minted minister of Families, Children and Social Development, going on an all-out attack against the Ford government with the media.

“To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure,” Gould told the Toronto Star the other day when asked why Ontario has not signed onto a deal for $10-a-day childcare.

The statement was either a flat out lie or proof Gould had not read a single page of her briefing books since being appointed minister two weeks ago. The Ontario government has been clear they’re open to a deal with the federal government, but it needs to address funding and sustainability concerns.

As I reported two weeks ago, the issue for Ontario is that to achieve what the federal government is promising would require more money than is on the table. The Trudeau Liberals are promising parents an average of $10 per day for childcare but to the provinces they’re promising to be 50-50 partners to help lower the cost.

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You can argue there is only one taxpayer but if one level of government promises a service and promises to cover half the cost and then doesn’t, budgets can fall apart quickly. Health care was supposed to be a 50/50 split between the feds and the provinces but now the feds only account for about 22% of the total bill while trying to dictate the terms of the deal.

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The concern is that the childcare deal, as currently structured, could end up the same.

The feds continue to claim there is $30 billion over five years on the table to fund childcare deals with the provinces but this is incredibly inaccurate. First off, the actual total is $29.8 billion, but after taking out funding for Indigenous childcare the total becomes $27.2.

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Bear with me here, math is hard but it’s also important.

All of these changes reduce the amount on offer to Ontario. Right now, the feds have offered up $10.2 billion over five years with vague comments about funding for the years following. Meaning, sign on now and we might keep funding you like we promised in year six.

In the meantime, the federal government is offering a pot of money that not only doesn’t properly compensate Ontario based on population but also doesn’t take into account the higher cost of childcare in the province. Remember, the promise is $10 per day with the federal government paying half the cost.

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According to the federal government’s own budget, Ontario is the most expensive place to provide childcare. In announcing their program, the Trudeau Liberals published a chart showing the median fees for childcare for toddlers and seven out of the top 10 most expensive locations were in Ontario.

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Yet the Trudeau government offers Ontario a funding model that is basically a per-child model regardless of local cost of care.

The cost of childcare in Toronto is 3.5 times higher than Winnipeg, 2.6 times higher than Charlottetown and 2.4 times higher than Regina. But Ontario is expected to take the same per-child funding model of other provinces.

The Ontario government already spends more than $2 billion per year on childcare and more than $3.5 billion per year on full-day kindergarten, a program not replicated in most provinces. The federal offer amounts to an average of $2 billion per year, but that is not enough to get the cost down to $10 per day with the federal government being a 50/50 partner.

This isn’t about politics or partisanship; this is about math and the math clearly shows the Trudeau government’s offer is shortchanging Ontario by billions of dollars.

blilley@postmedia.com

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