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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read