Federal New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh talked about the need for universal affordable childcare during a media availability in Terrace Aug. 19.
Local NDP Member of Parliament for Skeena – Bulkley Valley Taylor Bachrach accompanied Singh on a tour of the former ET Kenney School building, which is now used by Coast Mountain Children’s Society as a childcare centre.
The building is set for a provincially funded $3 million renovation which will create 102 new childcare spaces by Sept. 2021. Singh lauded the provincial government for the funding and called on the federal Liberals to do more to support affordable childcare.
Singh and the NDP have been promoting further childcare spending after they passed an Aug. 12 motion in the House of Commons, with the help of the Liberals, to transfer an extra $2 billion to provinces for affordable childcare.
“We’ve seen that as a result of COVID-19 women’s participation in the workplace has dropped to the lowest rate in 30 years,” said Singh.
“COVID-19 has impacted women disproportionately and if we want to fix that we know one of the most important things to do is make sure women can get back to work and that means access to childcare, there can be no recovery without affordable childcare.”
On Aug. 12, with the help of the federal Liberals, the NDP passed a motion in the House of Commons to transfer an additional $2 billion to the provinces for affordable childcare.
He called the government’s prorogation of parliament “the wrong choice” and “not the right thing do do,” while expressing his desire for childcare to be included in the Liberals’ throne speech on Sept. 23.
“We want to see a bold commitment to universal childcare that is affordable and accessible across Canada, that’s really what we want to see,” he said.
“I want to send a clear message to the Prime Minister that if the Liberal government is going to continue to get caught up in scandal after scandal where they are just helping themselves and people end up being hurt, then we are going to have to look at all options, but our focus is not on tearing down government, our focus is on how do we get help to people.”
After the throne speech is released there will be a mandatory a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The NDP have enough seats to save the Liberals from defeat, should the other parties vote to bring down the government.
That puts them in a strong position to influence policy, given that the Bloc Québécois have threatened to use the confidence vote to bring down the government.
When asked to justify travelling to northwest B.C. in light of surging COVID-19 infections, an outbreak on Haida Gwaii and concerns about non-essential travel, Singh said he has been following protocols like wearing a mask, physical distancing and sanitizing.
“I think there is an important balance where we need to hear from people, hear their concerns and do it in a respectful way,” he said.