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

The new study commissioned by the City of Terrace will evaluate environmentally sensitive areas around Ferry Island and the airport lands. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)
City to update two decades old environmentally sensitive areas report

New study will document areas excluded from previous 1998 report

Jessica McCallum-Miller announced on her Facebook page that she is the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation on April 17, 2021. (Jessica McCallum-Miller/Facebook)
Jessica McCallum-Miller to receive Lieutenant Governor’s Medal

Former Terrace councillor, Coast Mountain College student ‘honoured’

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Skeena Valley Farmers Market is expected to kick off its 2021 season from May 1, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place ( Skeena Valley Farmers Market/Facebook)
Skeena Valley Farmers Market on track to reopen next month

The first market day of the season will be held on May 1, at George Little Park

Coast Mountains School District 82 announced a shuffle of leadership positions in Terrace and the Hazeltons for the upcoming 2021/22 school year. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Coast Mountains School District 82 announces leadership shuffle

Several principal, vice-principal positions in Terrace affected

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Most Read