LILLEY: Trudeau’s child-care promise won’t deliver the goods

This promise of funding is all about the looming election, just like everything Trudeau has done this past week

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You know it’s election season when the Liberals start talking about a national child-care program as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did on Thursday in British Columbia.

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Trudeau arrived in Coquitlam with Premier John Horgan to announce he would fund a $10-a-day child-care system.

Except this promise of $3.2 billion over five years won’t achieve that goal — like so many announcements in the past, this is about electioneering.

In 1970, under the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national child-care program. The Liberals talked about it back then but didn’t act. Just for point of reference, our current prime minister was not yet born when that report came out and he turns 50 later this year.

The Liberals promised a national child-care program in 1984, 1993, 1997 and 2000 elections but never delivered. Justin Trudeau’s own Liberal government has been promising action on child care since the 2015 election but hasn’t delivered until now, when he is seeking votes from parents again.

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Is this just another attempt to get votes? Absolutely, because the numbers show it won’t do much for actually fixing the problem the PM says he cares deeply about.

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With roughly 275,000 children in British Columbia under the age of six, this $3.2 billion over five years amounts to $2,327 per child, per year. Put another way, it’s about $8.95 per day from the federal government for their much-vaunted national child-care system.

A survey by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives last fall found that the median cost of infant care in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond was $1,300 per month or about $59 per day. The Trudeau investment won’t get the price down to his promised $10 per day for parents.

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In fact, there will still be $50.05 per day that will have to be made up by parents or provincial taxpayers. This is a problem that will be replicated across the country and Trudeau makes announcements in each province.

How far will this level of funding go to reducing costs in a city like Toronto, where the median cost is $1,866 per month?

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Trudeau and his supporters would argue that at least their investment is lowering the cost, which is true, but not the point. What the Liberals are promising will only cover a fraction of the costs, meaning the program won’t be the universal system they have talked about for decades, or, most likely, provinces will pick up the costs while Trudeau takes electoral credit.

This promise of funding is all about the looming election, just like everything Trudeau has done this past week. The promise of $420 million for a steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie, the promise to start considering proposals for high frequency rail between Toronto and Quebec City, his announcements of transit funding in Calgary and Surrey are nothing but campaign events on the taxpayer dime.

Asked on Monday why he was actively campaigning using taxpayer funds instead of simply calling an election, Trudeau dodged and weaved and recited a list of accomplishments that he feels shows why his government should be re-elected.

Young parents with kids in child care now shouldn’t count on seeing the price drop to $10 a day anytime soon — maybe for their grandchildren but not for their children.

After decades of promising but not delivering, parents would be wise to be skeptical of this promise and see it for what it is, just an attempt to buy votes.

blilley@postmedia.com

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