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Sask NDP leader promises $25 per day child care

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WATCH: Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili has promised to install subsidized child care if elected in the upcoming provincial election.

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili has unveiled his latest election promise, telling reporters child care would only cost $25 with a New Democrat government.

Speaking on Friday, Meili said more parents could join the workforce if child care was more affordable and more accessible, which would help the province’s economic recovery after the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

“For years in Saskatchewan, we’ve had people having to make the tough decision of whether they can go to work or not because of the lack of availability of affordable childcare,” he said.

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“During the pandemic, that need became just all the more obvious.”

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A party spokesperson later stated that government funds to licensed childcare providers would offset the cost.

Meili also promised to increase the number of child care spaces by 2,200, around 50 per cent, and conduct a review of the system with experts.

He didn’t specify how much the program would cost, instead touting the benefits.

Quoting a 2017 research paper from the Conference Board of Canada, he said every dollar invested in child care brings six dollars of economic benefit.

The party will outline the cost of the program, according to an NDP statement, in a few weeks with the complete election platform.

Saskatchewan Party MLA and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said it would be two expensive.

In a statement, Wyant estimated the cost of Meili’s program at $198 million over four years.

Read more: After-school programs an ‘afterthought’ in COVID-19 guidelines, advocates say

He also said the Sask Party has added 7,100 new child care spaces in the past 12 years and has among the lowest fees in the county.

But the cost depends on where you live.

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A 2019 paper from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calculated the median cost of child care in cities across the country.

Regina and Saskatoon are some of the cheapest cities but there is still a big difference.

The median child care cost of a child between the age of three and when they start school is about $620 per month. That number, divided by the average number of days in a month, yields $20.33.

But in Saskatoon, the median cost for an infant, a child younger than two years of age, is $995 per month — $32.62 per day.

That’s far lower than Toronto, where the median monthly cost for an infant is $1,774, but still above the lowest costs on the list. Montreal, Quebec City and other cities in Quebec are tied at $179 median cost.

The National Assembly of Quebec voted to introduce subsidized childcare in 1997.