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

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

File Photo
Nominations for Sylvan Lake municipal election now open

Those looking to run for mayor or council can fill out and submit nomination forms now

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta passes bill to give all workers paid leave to get COVID-19 vaccine shot

Labour Minister Jason Copping says Bill 71 will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

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

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Alberta bill would protect health workers, care homes from some COVID-19 lawsuits

The bill proposes exempting a range of workers, including doctors, pharmacists and care-home operators, from being sued over COVID-19 unless it was for gross negligence

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’

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Alberta government aiming to boost financial literacy among students

Government providing grants to organizations who will help design financial literacy programming

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

Most Read