OTTAWA – The Liberal government has signed a national child care deal with the provinces, but Quebec is staying out of the multilateral agreement.
“I am very proud that we have now arrived to a successful agreement to help Canadian children and families have access to affordable, high-quality, flexible and fully inclusive child care,” Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement released Monday as he signed the deal with the provinces in Ottawa.
“Though this agreement, we are giving Canadian children the best possible start in life and providing support to families who need it the most,” Duclos said.
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The Liberal government negotiated the agreement – called the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework – to set out the parameters for the billions in new child care spending unveiled in the 2017 budget: quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity.
Quebec, which has had its own universal child care program for 20 years, did not join the framework, because it wants to keep child care solely within its jurisdiction.
Still, the province said it supports the general principles and is expected to reach a bilateral deal with the federal government to get its share of the money flowing.
The Canadian Press reported last week that provinces will not be able to use the funding to subsidize their own programs, but a spokesman for Duclos said Monday that does not mean it has to be used to create new spaces.
The flexible arrangement means provinces can choose to invest in improving the quality of care, or any of the other principles laid out by Duclos.
The federal budget committed about $7 billion in new child care funding, starting with $500 million this fiscal year and increasing to $870 million annually by 2026, which includes money for indigenous child care on reserves.
Through bilateral agreements to hammered out over the next few months, the Liberal government will provide $1.2 billion over the next three years.
The framework said that governments will have to report annually on their progress.