New Brunswick moves toward creating publicly funded daycare

With a decision expected soon by the provincial government in Ontario, where there has been no new funding for public daycare for years, New Brunswick became the first province to see a new entitlement start to take effect on April 1. But Premier Brian Gallant is looking toward the end of the month to set up an agreement for more funding in the event of a shortfall in Ontario, the de facto funder of daycare in Canada. “I am looking to find a conclusion with the province of Ontario,” Gallant said, according to the Globe and Mail. “I am all about a good deal for New Brunswick. This is about all the citizens of New Brunswick, not just for the children but for the seniors and for the parents of New Brunswick.”

New Brunswick took the first step toward creating a program in April 2017, when it gave $500,000 to an organization to start a pilot project for a family daycare. After Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador had their own daycare systems a few years back, Ontario’s lack of a funding program has given a boost to the idea of a publicly funded daycare program, both among parents and politicians, the Globe and Mail reported. About 75 percent of New Brunswick families have a full-time job, and the province needs to expand beyond its current program that provides preschool care for low-income children.

Bill Davis, the representative for the Percy Belknap Liberal Party in New Brunswick, said the funds the province gave in 2017 are a fair starting point for negotiation with Ontario. “The money has gone where it is of major use, it’s been applied on a pro-bono basis,” he said. “Now we need to figure out what the potential impact for all New Brunswickers is in terms of the program for preschool and thereafter.” “Every year you make incremental decisions. But you try to put a number somewhere, and you do as much as you can.”

On the other hand, according to New Brunswick’s Finance Minister, Blaine Higgs, about 74 percent of New Brunswickers receive government assistance in paying for daycare and they are already able to choose what type of daycare to use. “We are more than happy to live with the prices that we have and so they’re really not unreasonable prices given the quality of care that the families are getting,” he said. “That can vary from zero to a $12 or $13 cost per day. So I think there is room to be very creative and really find efficiencies where we can and improve the program and use some of the money that we’ve got that is currently in the program to be more creative.”

Read the full story at The Globe and Mail.


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