Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Liberals should drive daycare improvements, not redo system, report says

The report’s authors say the money should focus first on expanding the supply of licensed child-care spaces

A new report is urging the Trudeau Liberals to embrace “aggressive incrementalism” on their promised path toward a national child-care system, arguing the government should quickly build on what’s already there rather than push wholesale change.

The paper from the C.D. Howe Institute suggests that trying to revamp how child care is delivered in Canada by moving responsibility to Ottawa from the provinces appears unlikely to succeed.

Provinces aren’t likely to agree to national standards, the authors write, pointing to recent federal efforts on child care.

The think-tank’s report says the federal government should bundle funding for child care into an annual transfer payment similar to one it already provides to help provinces cover the cost of health care.

The report’s authors say the money should focus first on expanding the supply of licensed child-care spaces.

The authors add that any federal moves need to be aimed at quickly building up child-care services nationally because the status quo is not sustainable.

The report is the latest in a series of arguments being put before the Trudeau Liberals on the road to next month’s budget, in which child care is expected to feature prominently.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has promised the budget will outline a plan for a national child-care system, modelled on the publicly funded program in Quebec.

Child care has been debated federally for decades, including the role Ottawa should play in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

Ken Boessenkool, one of the C.D. Howe report’s authors, said there is no need to shift jurisdictions, just have Ottawa help the country do more of what has worked and do it better.

“We’re saying we’re not on the wrong path, we just have to do more of what we’ve been doing and do it more quickly,” said Boessenkool, the J.W. McConnell Professor of Practice at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.

“And we don’t need to blow the system up to fix it.”

He said the federal government should pick a lane on what it wants to do on child care to drive the agenda, specifically focusing on funding the expansion of spaces where they are needed most.

A report this month from Deloitte Canada estimated the government could spend between $7 billion and $8 billion on child care, which would return between $1.50 and $5.80 for every dollar spent through a combination of new revenues and reduced spending on social supports.

The two reports argue the federal government is better placed financially than provinces to boost spending on child care because federal fiscal room should loosen if and when emergency COVID-19 spending subsides.

To help with household finances, Boessenkool and co-author Jennifer Robson, an associate professor of political management at Carleton University, say the government should make the federal child-care tax deduction refundable, meaning that eligible parents could get more money back from the government. At the moment, it is deemed non-refundable, so it can only lower amounts owed, not boost a tax refund.

The authors contend the change in tax treatment would help low-income families qualify for the deduction, and help middle-income families more easily afford daycare.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

ChildcareLiberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

1914
It happened this week in 1914

April 18 - 24: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Balsamroot, pictured here, can be found on Sunflower Hill in the Kimberley Nature Park, Eager Hill, Wycliffe Buttes, and many other areas across the Rocky Mountain Trench. (Paul Rodgers file)
Spring’s yearly spectacle of balsamroot

Ever year in May, balsamroot emerges for a brief showy period

Today, on April 22, over 1 billion people will come together – virtually – to mark Earth Day.(Pixabay)
Earth Day 2021: a time to reflect

By Ruth Kamnitzer Today, on April 22, over 1 billion people will… Continue reading

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time up-keeping the yard? You may be unintentionally contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read