Federal NDP leader Tom Mulciar: The New Democrats are expected to unveil a universal

Federal NDP leader Tom Mulciar: The New Democrats are expected to unveil a universal

NDP to unveil universal child care plan

Mulcair to unveil next week NDP's national universal child care plan

  • Oct. 10, 2014 6:00 a.m.

By Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Tom Mulcair is poised to nail down next week one of the core planks of the NDP’s 2015 election platform: a plan to create a national, universal, affordable child care program.

The NDP leader is scheduled to unveil the plan Tuesday before embarking on a cross-country tour to promote it.

Party insiders say the objective is to negotiate deals with the provinces to create more child care spaces at an affordable rate that is accessible to all parents – along the lines of Quebec’s $7 a day, universal child care program.

New Democrats are also hoping to use the plan to help brand Mulcair as a father and grandfather who understands the needs of average Canadians and a leader who will actually deliver on promises to provide more day care spaces, unlike the Conservatives and Liberals.

As Mulcair put it earlier this week after meeting with some parents and child care providers: “It’s something that’s been talked about in Ottawa for 30 years; no one’s ever gotten to it …

“In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out very detailed policy for how we’re going to actually get this done.”

In fact, 12 years after the Liberals first promised a national child care program, Paul Martin’s Liberal government did finally negotiate day care deals with all the provinces in 2005, worth $5 billion over five years. However, the program was snuffed before it could get off the ground when the NDP, which had been propping up Martin’s minority government, joined the Conservatives to topple the government.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won the subsequent election and immediately scrapped Martin’s child care program, replacing it with a $100-a-month, universal child care benefit for parents with children under the age of six.

Mulcair said an NDP government would continue paying the child benefit. However, he said it would be up to individual provinces to decide whether to take the benefit into account when determining what rate to charge parents for child care.

While the NDP plan will not impose a single rate on all provinces, Mulcair said the party will “say what we mean by affordable, we’re going to give a very clear indication what that means.”

Ironically, Mulcair’s plan to replicate the Quebec model across the country comes as the province is struggling to reduce the $2-billion cost of its program. The Quebec government has begun indexing its daily child care rate to the annual inflation rate, hiking the fee to $7.30 earlier this month. And it is reportedly considering abandoning the universality principle in favour of a sliding fee scale based on the income of parents.

Whatever changes Quebec makes, Mulcair said child care in the province will still be much less expensive than elsewhere in Canada, where parents are spending as much as $2,000 a month. In any event, he said all provincial governments, including Quebec, would be in less of a financial crunch if the federal government was a partner in funding child care.

Mulcair said the NDP will provide “a very detailed costing” of its plan. He acknowledged it will cost “quite a bit” but said economists who’ve studied Quebec’s program have found that every dollar spent on providing child care pumps $1.78 into the economy in terms of increased productivity and higher economic growth triggered by the increase in women in the workforce.

“So that’s where we have to get Canadians on side, make them understand that, yes, it’s an investment, it’s a long term investment but it’s an investment that pays for itself, more than what it costs,” Mulcair said.

“So it’s actually something we can’t afford not to do.”

– Follow @jmbryden on Twitter

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Victoria police responded to a vehicle where this dog was found in distress due to the heat after being left inside. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Hot cars can be fatal to dogs left inside, Victoria police reminds public after distress calls

Victoria police found two dogs in a car with an internal temperature of 47 C on Friday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read