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National Daycare Program | Jean Charest would maintain the agreements with the provinces

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(Ottawa) Breaking with the position defended by the Conservatives in the last elections, Jean Charest proposes to maintain the national day care program set up by the Trudeau government if he takes control of the Conservative Party on September 10.

Mr. Charest thus exposes himself to new attacks on the part of the one who is considered to be the leader of the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party, MP Pierre Poilievre. The latter has repeatedly denounced this program, going so far as to accuse Justin Trudeau’s Liberals of having set up “a slush fund” (slush fund in English) to create a pan-Canadian network of daycare centers inspired by the Quebec model.

“Parents should have the freedom to choose how they spend their money on child care instead of having Trudeau impose his will on them,” Poilievre wrote on his Twitter account.

Last year, the federal government committed to investing $30 billion over five years to help the provinces provide child care services at an average of $10 a day. Already having such a program, Quebec was offered financial compensation of $6 billion. The Conservative Party fiercely opposed this measure.

Jean Charest therefore intends to maintain the child care agreements concluded by Ottawa with all the provinces and territories over the past 12 months, but that is not all. The former premier of Quebec also proposes to introduce a more generous and progressive childcare tax credit.

This new tax credit, which is inspired by tax measures similar to those in effect in Quebec and Ontario, would make it possible to reimburse up to 75% of childcare expenses for low-income families whose children do not attend subsidized child care.

This refund would be payable monthly, so families would not have to wait until they file their tax returns the following year to get the money they are entitled to.

What’s more, Mr. Charest believes that access to the Canada child benefit should be given to future parents even before the birth of the child, at the beginning of the second trimester of pregnancy. This would provide some financial cushion to families expecting a child.

Under his leadership, parental leave would also be modified. Among other things, federal income tax on the federal portion of EI benefits would be eliminated during parental leave. Parents who choose to work part-time or return to work gradually could earn up to $20,000 annually without affecting the amount of their employment insurance benefits.

Mr. Charest is to announce the details of these measures on Tuesday at an event in Peterborough, Ontario.

Canadian consensus

In an interview with The PressMonday, Charest said the package he is proposing will end any uncertainty that could hang over the future of the national child care program if he becomes the party’s next leader.

He also said that a national child care program is now part of the Canadian consensus. As proof, the provinces led by Conservative governments (Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick) have signed an agreement on the funding of childcare services with Ottawa.


PHOTO CATHERINE LEFEBVRE, ARCHIVES SPECIAL COLLABORATION

Jean Charest, candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party

Our experience in Quebec is very conclusive. In addition to maintaining the agreements signed by the federal government, we must complete everything with policies that are very favorable not only to families, but also to labor market integration.

Jean Charest, candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party

“If I become chief, there would be no uncertainty about the future of the national child care program. It would even be enhanced with measures that will allow families to have greater financial security, especially low-income families. From an economic and labor market perspective, these are good policies. It will help reduce poverty too,” he argued.

The measures he is proposing would cost about $1 billion. “But all of this would end up being paid for because by promoting the return to the labor market, people are paying taxes. He alluded to studies done in Quebec showing that the daycare program had encouraged greater participation of women in the labor market since its inception in 1997.

The future of the national child care program is therefore an important theme in the Conservative Party leadership race. A spokesman for Mr. Poilievre’s campaign, Anthony Koch, confirmed that he viewed the national child care program with suspicion.

“Pierre Poilievre believes in freedom of choice for parents. He prefers to put money for child care directly in the hands of parents and let them choose how to care for their children. The Liberals spent 30 years and billions of dollars promising affordable child care. But bureaucracy and interest groups gobbled up all that money, leaving parents with less choice and higher prices,” he said in an email.

“Mr. Poilievre will wait to see if the latest promises are different before announcing his plans to cut costs and expand choice for all parents. »

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