Canada daycare talks: ‘We are close’ to deal, minister says

Image copyright Stuart Dickinson

The federal and Ontario government are close to sealing a deal on a new daycare program after five months of negotiations, local Liberals in the province say.

The deadline to reach an agreement was extended to Saturday, 29 March, but a deal is expected to be struck “soon”, they added.

A deal will see the province pay Ottawa $1.9bn per year for four-year services.

Ontario’s Liberal government withdrew its offer in February after months of difficult talks.

Ottawa and Ontario “have made significant progress” in their negotiations, Labour Minister Laurie Scott and Ontario Labour Minister Peter Baclawski said in a joint statement.

“We look forward to moving to legislation as soon as possible.”

The federal and provincial governments have been bickering since the beginning of last year over how to fund expanded access to childcare for working parents.

The federal Liberals have also sought to extend its children’s benefit program to cover daycare costs.

The Ontario Liberals have said they are open to ensuring the federal benefit is included.

The Liberal government in Ontario has already set aside $1.3bn for a new childcare fund in its 2019-20 budget.

The new daycare agreement, if agreed, will also include “progressive child care” that focuses on “high-quality” early learning programs, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said on Wednesday.

Ms Scott previously said a deal was possible, adding that Ottawa and Ontario were “very close” to an agreement on childcare.

“I am in favour of putting children first, I like affordable child care, so yeah I can see a conclusion here,” she said in early February.

The Liberal government in Ontario is facing a provincial election this year.

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