Ontario protests over childcare funding

Image copyright AP Image caption The state will seek to reduce the number of hours it pays into its welfare programs

Ford says the government is standing firm on implementing changes before investing billions in future funding for childcare in Ontario.

He said its agenda was likely to start on Monday.

“Our priority is to implement a plan to reduce poverty and invest in human capital, including our kids. That’s who we’re serving,” Ford told reporters in Toronto.

His comments came as the federal and Ontario governments continued wrangling over new funding for childcare in Ontario.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he wants to invest $6bn (£4.4bn) by 2028 in full-day kindergarten and child care for families.

“Ontario wants to fund $6bn for childcare over 10 years. Ottawa is threatening to exclude us. We refuse to pay for another entitlement,” he said.

Conflict

If the provinces want new child-care funding they have to introduce lower fees for parents who earn less than $100,000 a year and cover all but one child’s age-appropriate care. The payment is now capped at 10% of income to 18 months.

The federal government is refusing to contribute unless Ontario also commits to cancelling plans to cut welfare benefits.

“We’re talking about three different kids, three different kids. I’m all for kids but I don’t think three kids are enough,” Mr Ford said.

The middle-class taxes would help to reduce “poverty”, he said.

The dispute started with an announcement last week.

The Canadian government said it would spend $5.5bn between 2018 and 2022 in community child care services in Ontario.

But when then-federal and Ontario finance ministers Kathleen Wynne and Charles Sousa unveiled the funding at an event in Toronto on Friday, Doug Ford, who had been sworn in as Ontario’s premier the day before, said the province would reduce the number of hours of benefit the families receive, cut welfare rates and make workers pay more toward their welfare.

Ontario has said it would comply with federal requirements, but the Canadian government has warned that the payments could not count toward that funding commitment because the money is earmarked for welfare.

It is unclear how much of a financial blow Ford’s plans would be, even though he has indicated that he plans to go ahead with them anyway.

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