Trudeau launched the salvo at a campaign event in Waterloo, Ont. where he pledged a re-elected Liberal government would work with provincial and territorial governments — including Ford’s — to create up to 250,000 more spaces for children enrolled in programs offered before and after school.
Trudeau pledged to send at least $535 million more each year to provinces and territories to create the new spaces. He said that’s nearly double the federal support provided through the Early Learning and Child Care Framework, his government’s 10-year, $7.5-billion funding commitment to child care across Canada.
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Liberals are also pledging to cut the fees parents pay for such elementary school programs by 10 per cent, a measure they say will save about $800 per year for an average Ontario family of four. And 10 per cent of new child care spaces will be for parents who work outside of normal hours, including those working overtime shifts or multiple jobs, Trudeau said.
Trudeau was asked by a reporter to explain how he will convince Ford and other right-wing premiers who aren’t his fans, such as Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister, to help him deliver on this promise.
The Liberal leader targeted his remarks towards the leader of Canada’s largest province, where 121 federal seats are up for grabs and polls suggest Ford is unpopular.
“People like Doug Ford, who say they are for the people, actually end up delivering cuts to public education, cuts to health care, cuts to the services that so many Canadians rely on,” he said.
“That’s why we recognize that it would be very problematic for an awful lot of families right across the country, particularly here in Ontario today, to have a federal government that aligns itself with the same kind of thinking that the Conservative premier in Ontario is putting forward.”
Conservative politicians are “not stepping up to help Canadians,” Trudeau said, and Canadian families are concerned about “cuts and austerity” at the federal level.
A reporter also noted that, earlier this month, Trudeau told The Toronto Star’s editorial board that provinces, not the feds, should be taking up the mantle of leadership on child care.
Trudeau said Monday that while provinces have a “really important role” on the file, so too does the federal government.
Kayla Iafelice, a spokesperson for the Ontario premier’s office, said in an email that the Ontario government is focused on growing the economy and providing Ontarians and their families with the services on which they rely.
“Since day one, Premier Ford has been focused on making life more affordable for Ontarians and their families,” she said.
Iafelice also highlighted how Ford said last month that he is “too busy governing” to respond to Trudeau’s critiques of him.
“You know I take it as a compliment. He feels that threatened about me,” Ford told reporters at the time. “Well, anyways I’m not getting involved in the federal election and I’m busy straightening out all the problems we inherited.”
Scheer denies cuts are coming
Liberals have consistently claimed that Scheer will usher in cuts to public services if he gets the chance to form government. Amid those attacks, Scheer backed down from a promise to balance the budget within two years and says a Tory government would instead return to black in five years.
On Sunday, after unveiling a proposal to cut the federal tax rate on the lowest income bracket to 13.75 per cent from 15 per cent, Scheer reiterated that Conservatives will balance the budget “over a responsible period of time.”
In August, Scheer committed to premiers that he would maintain increases to health and social transfer payments by at least three per cent if he becomes prime minister this fall.
Conservatives are also promising to give new parents on parental and maternity leave a new, non-refundable, 15 per cent tax credit.
With files from The Canadian Press