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Ford, Trudeau say Ontario child care deal coming soon as end of fiscal year looms

Click to play video: 'With just over three weeks to deadline, Ontario still without child-care deal'
With just over three weeks to deadline, Ontario still without child-care deal
WATCH: With just over three weeks to deadline, Ontario still without child-care deal (March 8, 2022) – Mar 8, 2022

The prime minister and Ontario’s premier promised Wednesday that an announcement on a proposed $10-a-day child-care plan would come “very soon” amid calls for a deal before the fast-approaching end of the fiscal year.

Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford were asked the state of negotiations at an unrelated announcement in Alliston, Ont., on Wednesday, where they said talks on the matter were continuing.

Officials at both levels of government have publicly commented on sticking points — with Ontario wanting more promised funds and Ottawa requesting a clearer spending plan — but Trudeau on Wednesday said the two sides agree that they want to make life more affordable for families.

“The common ground that we’ve always shared is a desire to see cost lower for hardworking families across Ontario, and indeed across the country and do the things that are going to help them get ahead,” Trudeau said.

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“The government of Canada and the government of Ontario are working very hard and very well together and we hope to have announcements to make soon.”

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Ford echoed Trudeau’s comments and repeated, as he has for months, that a deal would come soon.

“Our teams are working together on a daily basis, and we’ll have an announcement very, very soon,” the premier said.

Ontario is the sole Canadian jurisdiction that hasn’t signed on to Ottawa’s plan, which aims to reduce child-care fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of this year and to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

Calls are mounting for Ontario to finalize an agreement before the fiscal year ends on March 31 to ensure funding allocated for this year is put to use.

Ford has maintained that the current funding offer of $10.2 billion is insufficient for his province’s needs. His government has also asked for assurance that the program will last longer than five years.

The federal government said this month that Ontario had just recently submitted its detailed spending proposal for the proposed funding, allowing negotiations to move to the next stage.

Trudeau’s and Ford’s remarks came after a group of child-care educators sent a letter to officials in both governments urging a swift deal that addresses workforce challenges like wages, paid time off and other factors to ensure workers in the sector aren’t driven to leave their careers.

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The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario wrote to Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Federal Families Minister Karina Gould, asking that the expected funding support new practitioner roles, help people looking to upgrade their qualifications and specifically respond to needs in marginalized and rural communities.

“We know that (early childhood educators) and early years staff are essential — they were before COVID and will be after,” the letter said.

“Without a federal-provincial agreement that includes meaningful investments into these areas, the ECE workforce will have no choice but to continue to exit the sector en masse.”

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