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

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

The small fire was in the Big Eddy. (Contributed)
Revelstoke grass fire extinguished

The blaze is the first of the season in our area

Twin falls in Yoho National Park. Yoho is one of the mountain parks whose draft management plan is now available for review. (Claire Palmer photo)
Local input sought to shape future of mountain national parks

Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks are amongst those seeking input

The city has decided to apply to have the Jordan River area withdrawn from Crown Land disposition, which would put the decision on how the land is used and protected in the hands of the city. (File photo)
City of Revelstoke applying to withdraw Jordan River from Crown Land

At the moment the province has control over what is developed in the area

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

A Keremeos family lost their home after a fire shortly before midnight on April 13. No injuries were reported. (Contributed)
Keremeos home destroyed in late-night fire

The family inside was unharmed

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

Naloxone
Op/Ed: Interior Health CEO speaks on five years of strides and challenges in overdose crisis

In 2020, close to 4,000 people across IH had access to opioid medications

Somewhere in the pack being celebrated by his teammates is Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli, who scored in overtime Wednesday afternoon, April 14, to give the Snakes a 6-5 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in B.C. Hockey League pod play at Kal Tire Place. (Liza Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers bite Salmon Arm Silverbacks in OT

Snakes blow 5-3 third-period lead, rally in extra time for 6-5 pod play result over rivals

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

New parking meters have been installed on Main Street, Ellis Street, Front Street, Nanaimo Avenue and Padmore Avenue in Penticton. (City of Penticton photo)
Pay parking now in effect in downtown Penticton

A spot downtown will now cost you $2 per hour

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Most Read