Liberals pledge billion-dollar child care fund
Published Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:14PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:20AM EDT
The Liberals want to make hundreds of millions of dollars available each year for provinces to build, staff and boost child-care services for Canadian families, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced during a campaign stop on Thursday.
Ignatieff said that the provinces need to be able to hire the pre-school teachers they need, to build the facilities they require and to get more kids into child care.
"We want to focus on what the issue is: Long lists, parents desperate to get their children into a great early learning and child care experience. We want to get this done as quickly as possible," Ignatieff said Thursday, when speaking to reporters at a Winnipeg pre-school.
If elected, Ignatieff said the Liberals will create a government fund that would initially be worth $500 million, but gradually be increased to a $1-billion fund over a four-year period.
The goal would be to make the fund as flexible in nature, so that the provinces could attend to the child-care challenges within their jurisdiction.
"You don't need a big, vast federal program employing lots of bureaucrats," Ignatieff said.
"What you need is a fast, rapid and responsible, flexible fund that can respond to the needs of provinces."
Ignatieff said a government fund will yield benefits for families quickly and could be set up in a short period of time.
The Liberal leader did not provide an estimate on how many child care spaces the proposed fund would create. He said that would depend on how the provincial governments use the money.
Ann Decter, director of public policy for the YWCA, said almost two-thirds of women with children under the age of three are in the workforce and there need to be a national childcare system as a result.
"(YWCA) is very pleased to see the Liberal Party make this kind of commitment during the campaign," she said. "In particular, we're very happy that they are making a long-term commitment to make sure that there is a space for every family who wants one."
Andrea Mrozak from the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada said the money the Liberals have pledged for the program would be better served going directly to families.
"If you can imagine what parents could do with that kind of money in their pockets, it's a far more effective use of the money," Mrozak said. "This one-size-fits-all is not an effective way to serve Canadian families."
Decter argued the money would go a lot further if it goes towards a system that parents can choose to send their children to or not.
With files from The Canadian Press