UCP frustrated over Quebec’s child care agreement with Ottawa, feds say Alta. shows commitment for ‘first time’

EDMONTON — The provincial government is accusing Ottawa of “dishonest, bad-faith negotiating” when it comes to child care after it approved a subsidized day care agreement with Quebec on Thursday.

Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s minister of children’s services, said in a statement that the agreement Quebec and the federal government reached on Canada subsidized early learning and child care was unfair since Alberta made the same arrangement but was “rejected.”

“Today, we’ve learned that the federal government and Quebec have agreed to a $6-billion child care agreement without conditions,” Schulz said. “This is the exact arrangement Ottawa rejected when Alberta asked for it this week and last week.”

Quebec marked the sixth jurisdiction in Canada to agree to a subsidized child care plan with the federal government first announced in the April budget. The Liberal government pledged to lower the cost of child care by half and work toward $10-a-day spaces across the country by 2026.

Quebec will receive a transfer of about $6 billion over five years to help ensure enough spaces within the province’s subsidized daycare network. 

“When we asked Ottawa if any province would receive a straight transfer of child care dollars with no conditions attached we were told no,” Schulz said.

“This is dishonest, bad-faith negotiating from Ottawa right before an election,” she added. “It’s frustrating to see Alberta parents could be left behind because of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cynical pre-election manoeuvring especially given that we are absolutely committed to affordable, accessible child care.”

The minister said Alberta has a plan that meets the needs of Alberta parents and criteria set out by the federal government.

“We call on the federal government to give Alberta a fair deal and provide full child care funding without conditions through a signed early learning and child care agreement as soon as possible,” Schulz said.

“Our economic recovery and working parents, especially women across this province, are counting on it.”

NDP critic for children’s services Rakhi Pancholi said in a statement that the party had drafted a bilateral agreement “weeks ago” that met the federal criteria.

“Instead of stepping up to support Albertans, Jason Kenney is throwing a temper tantrum as thousands of Alberta families struggle to pay their child care bills,” Pancholi said.

“The UCP are turning their nose up at $3.8 billion that could be circulating in our economy right now.”

FEDS ‘PLEASED’ TO SEE ALBERTA’S COMMITMENT

Mikaela Harrison, press secretary for the federal ministry of families, children, and social development, told CTV News Edmonton in a statement that she was pleased Alberta was demonstrating commitment to $10-a-day child care for the “first time.”

“Our government came to the table with every province and territory as a willing partner,” Harrison said. “We have made significant progress by signing agreements with six provinces and territories.

“We are pleased to hear for the first time today that the Alberta government is now committed to $10/day or less child care for families, as well as meeting the requirement of cutting fees by half on average by next year.”

The press secretary said Ottawa is looking forward to receiving Alberta’s action plan “as soon as possible,” adding that Quebec has led the way for decades with its early learning and child care system.

“Our announcement today builds on this success to strengthen the Quebec system, and includes reporting requirements to ensure they continue to meet the objectives of affordability, accessibility, inclusivity and quality.”

CTV News Edmonton reached out to the UCP for further comment.

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