By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) – British Columbia on Thursday became the first Canadian province to sign on to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national childcare plan, in a deal that could bolster the ruling Liberals in a key province ahead of a likely federal election this year.
Canada will invest C$3.2 billion ($2.56 billion) over five years under the plan, which will create tens of thousands of new daycare places and ensure all regulated spots in the province eventually cost just C$10 a day.
“When we talk about a feminist revival after this pandemic, that is what we are talking about: Concrete actions that will give everyone a chance to succeed,” Trudeau told reporters.
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in April laid out a plan to invest up to C$30 billion over five years to set up a long-promised national childcare program and help more women get back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, which would cut childcare costs in half in the first year and then down to C$10-a-day within five years, requires provinces and territories to sign on, with the two levels of government splitting the cost.
“For people with young kids, this is huge … This is real change you can count on,” Trudeau said on Thursday.
Trudeau has publicly talked down election speculation, but sources say he is aiming for a snap vote in September to capitalize on Canada’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Columbia will pay C$2.5 billion over three years under the deal. The province has already invested C$2 billion to advance its own childcare initiative.
($1 = 1.2518 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Sandra Maler)