When I was in the Ontario legislature I was a big booster of being open about how expensive childcare is to Ontario families. I didn’t make my values clear in public, but behind closed doors, I made the point that I wanted children to be our best economic resource. Under my leadership in the provincial legislature, we put in place modest supports to help address this issue. One example of a private-public partnership with the Province of Ontario is how I invested in educational resources to help young children’s developing brains receive the best possible start in life. As a result, a school that I helped found was recognized in our province as a school of excellence for the children and families it serves.
I am appalled that a minor federal and provincial rift may prevent Ontario Premier Doug Ford from sharing in some of the benefits from the Ottawa-Ottawa’s $5 billion investment in equalization for Ontario’s children. Early childhood education and childcare are so important to our youth, to our economic future and to the economic and physical health of our nation. Just this week, I applauded federal Employment Minister Patty Hajdu for her commitment to investing $10 billion over 10 years to increase access to pre-kindergarten education to 2-year-olds. This investment in children, which will help meet the needs of working parents, is just the first step in a more promising and promising path to a sustainable and equitable childcare system.
Yet, I am still astonished at the fact that while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault were so committed to creating a child care system, Premier Ford, while taking something away from Ontario families, does not want to share the benefits with his provincial parents.
The federal government’s decisions to increase funding for child care programs for all Canadians require a proposal that makes sense for Ontario. The Trudeau government has agreed to a formula that aims to increase provincial revenues by $5 billion over 10 years to support programs in several child care and education sectors. The formula also considers whether children live in a region, have bilingual parents or are part of a new program.
The argument that the prime minister is being unfair and confusing to Ontario families is ridiculous and it’s a lot of theatrics and posturing. I’m confident that I am well qualified to go to the premiers of my province and ask them to commit to opening their doors and adding more child care to their systems in a responsible and equitable way.
As a member of the Ontario legislature, I have looked up to the federal government for decades. The federal child care plan will enrich our society and our economy. It’s important for mothers to have access to the programs and supports they need to make their lives their own and grow their workforces.
Right now, children from low-income families, immigrants and Indigenous families living on reserves, parents with young children and those who work part-time or have no employer-sponsored child care offer to the richest in the country to avail themselves of the benefits. This system is a broken system for our children and I hope that the premiers and Ottawa can work together to create a system that will be fair and equitable for all.