As the potential for a federal election looms, one advocacy group is calling for quicker progress on a child care agreement between the Saskatchewan and federal governments. The region’s education minister says it could happen as early as this week.
This spring’s federal budget featured the announcement of some $30B to be set aside over 5 years to establish a national child care system.
The federal government’s aim was to reduce child care costs to $10 per day per child across the country within the 5-year funding period. That is substantially less than what most working parents currently pay in Canadian jurisdictions outside of Quebec.
Sask. Child Care Now coalition spokesperson Sue Delanoy estimated the region was eligible for around $1.2B and said our government would not have to spend a dime more to access those funds.
“It’s stunning the province has failed to reach an agreement so far,” she said in a statement.
Delanoy added that she hoped an agreement would come before a federal election was called.
Last month, in the wake of agreements with provincial governments in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, Saskatchewan’s Opposition NDP called for faster progress from the provincial government in making a deal.
The median monthly cost of daycare in 2020 was $810 in Saskatoon and $675 in Regina, as per the budget. The most expensive in Canada is in Toronto, at $1,578, and the least expensive is $181 in Quebec City.
A deal may soon be coming, said Sask. Minister of Education Dustin Duncan.
On Wednesday he told the media he expected to announce an agreement with the federal government for between $1B and $2B dollars dedicated specifically to child care, such as those signed in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Manitoba before.
“I’m certainly hopeful that we’ll have an agreement by … the end of this week,” he said.
“We’ve been negotiating quite earnestly over the last week, little over a week and a half I guess it has been. And I think we’re getting very close.”
Duncan additionally addressed Delanoy’s concerns and said in the time that has passed since the federal budget this spring, the region was waiting to be approached by the federal government to negotiate the terms of an agreement.
He said Saskatchewan had the appropriate documentation on hand around a month ago, and has since been working to prepare and partaking in negotiations with the federal government.
He said Sask.’s deal, such as those signed in other regions, will allow for flexibility to adapt to the differences in how provincial childcare systems were established.
“For Saskatchewan, certainly the principles of 50 per cent reduction and driving toward an average of $10 per day, that certainly is a part of the negotiations, as well as expanding the number of child care seats in the province, that’s part of the negotiations as well,” Duncan said.