Child-care cash to help with urgent COVID-19 needs in sector, Hussen says

Child-care cash to help with urgent COVID-19 needs in sector, Hussen says

Child-care cash to help with urgent COVID-19 needs in sector, Hussen says

OTTAWA — The federal minister in charge of the government’s child-care agenda says the Liberals won’t abandon the sector once urgent, pandemic-related funding runs out before the end of the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The Liberals promised the provinces and territories $625 million over the next six to eight months, which at the most would go to the end of the federal fiscal year.

That money is on top of some $400 million for provinces and territories this fiscal year as part of a 10-year child-care agreement that began paying out two years ago.

As daycares continue to reopen — some at a reduced capacity under public health guidelines — the provision of child care is being tied to getting many parents back on the job, especially mothers, whose job losses have been worse and gains slower than fathers.

In an interview, Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said the Liberals had a high ambition for the sector, and reiterated the government would follow through on a campaign pledge to create 250,000 before- and after-school spaces.

He suggested the Liberals might look to do something more in the next fiscal year.

“This is a very important sector. It’s a priority for our government,” Hussen said.

“There is simply no viable recovery without a strong child-care sector. That tells you that this is a sector that we will stand by and support all the way, beyond the (next) eight months.”

Hussen was in the Toronto area Monday to tout a planned increase to the value of the Canada Child Benefit that kicks in this month. The maximum yearly benefit will now be $6,765 for each child five and under, and $5,708 for each child age six to 17.

The Liberals had originally planned to increase the value of the benefit to inflation beginning this week, but moved up plans two years ago under a sunny economy that was seeing regular job growth.

Now, things are much different.

The country is still trying to regain roughly half of the nearly three million jobs lost over March and April. A recovery to pre-pandemic levels could take two years or more based on the central bank’s outlook that could change if, for instance, there’s a harsh second wave or the quick emergence of a vaccine.

Along with steeper job losses than men, a report from RBC last week noted ”an alarming trend” of women falling out of the labour force — meaning they lost their jobs and opted not to go looking for new work — at a higher rate than men. The report said child-care policies will be “crucial to keeping women engaged in the workforce” in the near-term.

Hussen said the funding in the “safe restart” agreement matches what provinces, territories and child-care experts pitched to help the sector manage the immediate costs of COVID-19.

He added the pandemic money will be aimed at helping daycares pay for protective gear, cleaning supplies and extra space needed to reopen safely, although exact details are still being worked out.

What the government has been hearing is a need to work out spending beyond the end of the federal fiscal year so a recovery doesn’t falter by parents being unable to work due to a lack of child care.

In a report to be released Tuesday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives puts some figures on the request. The report calls for a doubling in federal funding to $2.5 billion for the restart, which would also include money for Indigenous communities.

Beyond that, the report suggests $2 billion for the next fiscal year, increasing by $2 billion annually, which would be a faster pace than what the Liberals have planned for their 10-year, $7 billion child-care deal.

“We need a clear plan to address the lack of child care and the difficulties faced by schools,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in the House of Commons. “The federal government has to step up with funding to support both of those things.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 11 additional deaths over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta
Red Deer active COVID-19 cases drop slightly

Province reports 267 additional COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in Maskwacis leaves one male in hospital, one male in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker is expected to sentence Satnam Singh Sandhu on Friday. Red Deer Advocate file photo
Updated: Sylvan Lake man pleads guilty to manslaughter for strangling wife in 2019

Kulvinder Sandhu was strangled and died in hospital several days later

Sentencing delayed in the stabbing death of Samantha Sharpe, of Sunchild First Nation. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Central Alberta man not criminally responsible for killing his father in 2020: judge

Psychiatrist testified Nicholas Johnson was psychotic when he killed his father

Most Read