‘Bad-faith negotiating’: UCP frustrated over Quebec’s child care agreement with Ottawa

EDMONTON — The provincial government is accusing Ottawa of “dishonest, bad-faith negotiating” when it comes to child care after it approved a subsidized day care agreement with Quebec on Thursday.

Rebecca Schulz, Alberta’s minister of children’s services, said in a statement that the agreement Quebec and the federal government reached on Canada subsidized early learning and child care was unfair since Alberta made the same arrangement but was “rejected.”

“Today, we’ve learned that the federal government and Quebec have agreed to a $6-billion child care agreement without conditions,” Schulz said. “This is the exact arrangement Ottawa rejected when Alberta asked for it this week and last week.”

Quebec marked the sixth jurisdiction in Canada to agree to a subsidized child care plan with the federal government first announced in the April budget. The Liberal government pledged to lower the cost of child care by half and work toward $10-a-day spaces across the country by 2026.

Quebec will receive a transfer of about $6 billion over five years to help ensure enough spaces within the province’s subsidized daycare network. 

“When we asked Ottawa if any province would receive a straight transfer of child care dollars with no conditions attached we were told no,” Schulz said.

“This is dishonest, bad-faith negotiating from Ottawa right before an election,” she added. “It’s frustrating to see Alberta parents could be left behind because of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cynical pre-election manoeuvring especially given that we are absolutely committed to affordable, accessible child care.”

The minister said Alberta has a plan that meets the needs of Alberta parents and criteria set out by the federal government.

“We call on the federal government to give Alberta a fair deal and provide full child care funding without conditions through a signed early learning and child care agreement as soon as possible,” Schulz said.

“Our economic recovery and working parents, especially women across this province, are counting on it.”

NDP critic for children’s services Rakhi Pancholi said in a statement that the party had drafted a bilateral agreement “weeks ago” that met the federal criteria.

“Instead of stepping up to support Albertans, Jason Kenney is throwing a temper tantrum as thousands of Alberta families struggle to pay their child care bills,” Pancholi said.

“The UCP are turning their nose up at $3.8 billion that could be circulating in our economy right now.”

CTV News Edmonton reached out to the federal government for comment. 

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