Trudeau, Furey announce $10-a-day child care implemented in Newfoundland and Labrador

N.L. Premier Andrew Furey takes questions from reporters as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on, at the Discovery Daycare in Clarenville N.L. on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

CTV-CLARENVILLE, N.L. –┬áPrime Minister Justin Trudeau was in central Newfoundland Wednesday to applaud the province’s introduction of $10-a-day child care, roughly three years ahead of schedule.

Parents in the province have been paying an average of $10 a day for child care since Jan. 1, ahead of the target to have the system in place across the country by 2026.

“We took too long as a country to bring in affordable, high-quality child care across this country,” Trudeau told reporters at Discovery Daycare in Clarenville, N.L. “Quebec did it about 25 years ago, and we saw directly what a huge impact it made.”

The prime minister’s motorcade of large black SUVs turned heads in the community of about 6,700 people as Trudeau travelled between the daycare and the town’s events centre. There he answered audience questions during a town hall held in a darkened theatre full of fidgeting teenagers from the local schools.

Clarenville is in the Bonavista–Burin–Trinity district, where Churence Rogers has been the Liberal MP since 2017. Trudeau pointedly contrasted his government’s positions with those of his opponents during his two appearances in Newfoundland Wednesday.

“Canadians are right to be extremely concerned about the interference by China in our institutions, in our democracy and in our elections,” Trudeau told reporters. “But there are politicians out there who think that the best way to solve this very serious problem, and this concern that Canadians have, is by amping up the level of partisanship and political attacks.”

Allegations that China meddled in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections have dominated debate on Parliament Hill for weeks. Federal New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre have both called for a public inquiry into the allegations, but Trudeau reiterated Wednesday that his plan to appoint an “independent expert” to probe the allegations is the best approach.

“There was no impact from Chinese interference on to the outcome of our elections,” Trudeau said. “That’s something that Canadians should have confidence in.” Later in the day, he announced that former governor general David Johnston has been named as the special rapporteur on foreign interference.

Singh also told The Canadian Press that he wants to see Ottawa extend the six-month boost to the GST rebate, introduced last fall, which temporarily doubled the amount people received. Trudeau would not say Wednesday if that will happen.

“I very much look forward to presenting that budget, but everyone’s gonna have to wait a few more weeks,” he said. He touted the credit as well as his government’s work on $10-a-day child care as important parts of Ottawa’s effort to help Canadians combat the cost of living crisis.

The federal government says nearly half of Canada’s provinces and territories are now providing child care at an average of $10 a day, while in other jurisdictions, the fees have been cut on average by 50 per cent, with a goal of hitting the $10-a-day target by 2026.

Trudeau’s trip to central Newfoundland comes as parents in the province are grappling with a shortage of daycare spots for their children. The issue was front and centre in the provincial legislature Tuesday afternoon, with members of the opposing Progressive Conservatives demanding answers from Furey.

The Liberal premier acknowledged Wednesday that demand was outstripping supply. He promised to raise wages for some early childhood educators to a minimum of $25 an hour beginning in April, and he said his government was working with two local colleges to increase the number of spaces in early childhood education training programs.

“We’re tackling the affordability piece and we did that ahead of schedule, but now we need to scale that. And that is going to take some time,” Furey said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2023.