It’s a deal.
Canada will have a national childcare program for the first time in history when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Doug Ford sign the agreement on Monday in the Greater Toronto area.
Ontario was the last province or territory to agree to Ottawa’s plan due to concerns about long-term funding.
As first reported by Star last week, Ford has finally bought into the five-year $ 10.2 billion scheme that will halve childcare fees by the end of December.
That’s because he received assurances from Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland about a looming infrastructure program – likely unveiled in her federal budget – to fund thousands of new childcare places.
“We have worked very well with the federal government and we will announce it very soon,” Ford told reporters Sunday in Toronto at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ontario Line subway.
“But as I mentioned, $ 10.2 billion over five of us does not give the $ 10 in day care, but stay tuned,” he said.
“We have a good deal with the federal government … they have been phenomenal partners as they always have been and we look forward to the announcement.”
On Friday, Star revealed that Ottawa is looking to spend hundreds of millions more to create additional child care spaces.
The cash would be made available under a separate infrastructure fund and offered to all provinces based on their share of the population under 12 years of age.
It was considered “a game changer” by those close to Ford.
“If (the premiere) had signed two months ago, that money would not be there,” said an official, who spoke confidentially to discuss internal considerations.
“Now it’s separate from the child care agreement, so Ottawa can still say it’s $ 10.2 billion (for Ontario),” the insider said.
Although separate from the childcare funding program, Ontario’s 38 percent share of infrastructure money and assurances of an ongoing federal funding commitment after the expiration of the five-year agreement was enough to seal the deal.
Freeland has committed $ 9.2 billion annually to child care after the agreement is up in 2026 if the provinces want to renew the scheme.
“That means at least $ 2.9 billion (per year) for Ontario going forward, making the program sustainable,” said another senior provincial official who was not authorized to speak in public.
“We were very concerned that once those five years have passed, Ottawa would go away and leave us to fund a major social program, as they have done with health care,” the official said, noting that the federal government currently only pays 22 percent of health. costs, with the provinces covering the rest.
Federal officials insist these terms were already announced in Freeland’s budget last year, but the province said it needed more guarantees.
With an election in Ontario scheduled for June 2 – and both NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca pressured Ford to sign – the progressive Conservatives were eager to sign.
“This will halve childcare fees in the first year and make us $ 10 a day in year four,” a source said last week.
“That means childcare of $ 10 a day is achievable and sustainable in the long run.”
The two sides have negotiated an agreement to establish an early review to determine how well the program is working from the third year onwards, which means the US authorities will have to stay engaged and not just wash their hands after the five years are up and let the province pay the bill, “the source said.
A federal source, who was also not authorized to speak in public, said later in the year that there would be retroactive payments to parents who still pay higher fees.
Freeland has said the national program could add 240,000 workers to the workforce and raise real GDP by as much as 1.2 percent over the next two decades.
JOIN THE CONVERSATIONS