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Freeland says COVID-19 has created a ‘window of alternative’ to launch nationwide child-care program | CBC Information

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland mentioned late Thursday that constructing a nationwide early studying and child-care system might be on the centre of the Liberal authorities’s COVID-19 restoration plan, saying “now’s the second” for Canada to meet a promise lengthy made to folks.

Talking with former Liberal cupboard minister Ken Dryden throughout a “fireplace chat” on the celebration’s coverage conference, Freeland mentioned she is seized with the problem given the “extremely harmful” decline in feminine workforce participation over the past yr.

Whereas successive Liberal leaders have vowed to overtake the nation’s child-care regime solely to retreat when in authorities, Freeland mentioned the political equation has modified amid the upheaval created by the pandemic.

“I actually imagine COVID has created a window of political alternative and perhaps an epiphany on the significance of early studying and youngster care,” Freeland mentioned.

A whole bunch of hundreds of jobs have been misplaced because the onset of the pandemic and lots of of these are in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, retail and meals — industries which can be dominated by ladies staff.

A latest evaluation from RBC discovered nearly half 1,000,000 Canadian ladies who misplaced their jobs in the course of the pandemic hadn’t returned to work as of January. Employment amongst ladies in Canada who earned lower than $800 every week has fallen nearly 30 per cent, the financial institution discovered.

Almost 100,000 working-age Canadian ladies have fully left the workforce altogether because the pandemic began, which suggests they are not even in search of a brand new job.

“Lots of people who did not have to fret about early studying and youngster care, now COVID has introduced it into their lives and I believe that creates an actual alternative for us,” Freeland mentioned.

“Now’s the second that Canada must get this carried out, we have to construct this for the ladies of at present.”

Advocates have lengthy referred to as for a federally-funded common child-care program. (CBC)

Freeland, who will desk a federal funds later this month, mentioned a low-cost child-care system just like the one already in place in Quebec, the place mother and father pay a flat-rate of $10 a day per youngster, will create good-paying jobs and drive financial progress by permitting extra ladies to work after giving delivery.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has mentioned Canada will “construct again higher” after COVID-19, a virus that has ravaged social and financial life on this nation. To assist in that effort, Liberal Social gathering members have convened on-line for a three-day digital coverage assembly to assemble concepts for an upcoming election platform.

Delegates will debate concepts like a common fundamental revenue, high-speed rail and a “simply transition” for power staff affected by the shift to cleaner gasoline sources, amongst different proposals.

‘Heartbreaking’ delays

Dryden, who served as minister of social improvement underneath former prime minister Paul Martin, led an effort in 2004-06 to construct a nationwide child-care system just like the one that’s now being contemplated by Trudeau and his cupboard.

Dryden secured some $5 billion over 5 years to begin constructing a common child-care regime — a program designed to supply low-cost look after the kids of working mother and father.

That plan was derailed after the Liberals misplaced the 2006 election. The next Conservative authorities went a distinct route, sending month-to-month cheques instantly to folks to assist offset the price of care.

Freeland mentioned it was “heartbreaking” to overview Dryden’s plan some 15 years later, saying such a program would have helped the various moms who have been pressured to decide on between in search of a job and caring for a kid throughout this pandemic.

Whereas promising some type of child-care plan, Freeland informed Dryden that there is “anxiousness” inside authorities about creating such a fancy program in a comparatively quick timeframe.

Former Liberal cupboard minister Ken Dryden helped designed a nationwide child-care system whereas in authorities. The plan was derailed after former prime minister Paul Martin misplaced the 2006 federal election. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Dryden mentioned such a system — which, given constitutional concerns, would require buy-in from the provinces — will take years to construct and can undergo many iterations earlier than a completely functioning nationwide community can be in place. Regardless of the hurdles, he mentioned beginning that work now’s essential to present Canadian youngsters “an awesome, nice begin in life.”

Final November, within the fall financial replace, Freeland laid out the primary steps in a multi-year plan to construct a Canada-wide child-care system.

The federal government has since created a brand new federal secretariat on early studying and youngster care to work with the provinces and territories to design a brand new nationwide system.

Freeland has promised the following federal funds would current a extra concrete plan on how Ottawa will present “reasonably priced, accessible, inclusive and high-quality youngster care from coast to coast to coast.”

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