Remarks announcing historic first early learning and child care agreement with British Columbia
First, I want to acknowledge that we are on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation.
We thank the Kwikwetlem who continue to live on these lands and care for them, along with the waters and all that is above and below.
I am very happy to be here at Lafarge Lake Park in Coquitlam with Premier Horgan. John, it’s always great to see you but, it’s really great to see you today.
Today’s announcement is yet another great example of how closely and collaboratively we’ve been able to work, particularly with this strong progressive government in B.C., one thing that will make a real difference for people.
With a shared vision on childcare, strong commitments that John has made over the past many years and actions he’s taken, we’ve been able to move very quickly.
I’m also happy to be joined by ministers Hussen and Qualtrough.
Ahmed, the work that you have done, first signing bilateral agreements with all provinces and territories a number of years ago that have brought us forward on improving childcare right across the country for so many people.
Minister Qualtrough, by members of our outstanding team here in B.C. and by the provincial Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen, who’s been an extraordinary ally on this as well. I have to tell you, it’s so great to be back in B.C.
This has been home for me for so many years in so many different ways.
I’ve got deep roots here with my grandparents and my mom.
I actually got my start as a teacher at Pitt River middle school just a few blocks that way.
So, coming full circle back here, back home today, is really exciting particularly, with the announcement we’re able to make today where, yet again, we see British Columbians leading the way for the entire country on progressive strong values that bring people together.
It is so great to be here.
But I know I’m also here at a time that has been incredibly difficult for a lot of British Columbians.
To begin with, the situation with the wildfires after last week’s heatwave is extremely concerning, and we’ve been following it closely.
This morning, I gathered a number of ministers for a meeting with our Incident Response Group, as our priority is to keep working with partners like the province, municipal and Indigenous leaders to keep British Columbians safe.
Later today, when John and I sit down together, we’ll be talking about this.
I’ll also be meeting with the Lytton leadership, the First Nations leadership, the municipal leadership, and other partners to emphasize that the federal government is here to help.
Help in rebuilding, help in supports for families who’ve lost so much, families who are grieving.
To be there with our provincial friends and partners, to be there with Canadians across the country who want to be helpful, who want to support families going through incredibly difficult times.
Even as we redouble our efforts and our commitments, taking accelerated action on fighting climate change and continue to building a green economy.
Across the province, there are also people grieving after the recent discoveries of unmarked graves near former residential schools.
To all survivors, families, and Indigenous people:
We’re here for you.
We will work with you on whatever you need to heal.
Canada needs to recognize that the shame of our past is echoed today in continuing injustices, intolerance, and unfairness towards Indigenous peoples.
And that reconciliation is not just about Indigenous peoples and governments, although that’s an important part of it that we are all working hard on, it is also something that involves every single Canadian.
Every single one of us must be on this path towards reconciliation, towards a better country in partnership with Indigenous peoples.
These discoveries remind us how important it is to continue building a better future for everyone.
And that’s why we’re here—to announce real, progressive measures that will have a real impact on the lives of British Columbians.
The pandemic has laid bare what women and feminists have long known—that without good childcare, it’s practically impossible for parents, especially mothers, to build a career.
For middle-class families, quality childcare can be incredibly expensive and that’s if parents are able to find childcare spaces at all.
Just take here in the Lower Mainland, where childcare can cost up to $60 a day.
That’s $300 a week for one child
What if you have two or three children?
Hard-working families deserve better, but our economy deserves better as well.
Building back better means ensuring mothers and families have access to quality, affordable childcare.
It’s important for our children and it’s important for our economy to ensure more women can be in the labour market. When we talk about a feminist recovery after the pandemic, this is what we are talking about: concrete actions that will give everyone the chance to succeed.
So yes, this is exactly what a feminist recovery looks like.
In April, we announced our plan to build the first-ever Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
And today, I can share that we’ve reached an agreement with the strong, progressive allies in the Government of B.C. to make childcare more affordable for families in this province.
For people with young kids, this is huge.
As part of the agreement, in the next five years, we’ll work with the provincial government to achieve an average of $10-a-day childcare for all regulated spaces for kids under 6.
Also, in the next five years, 30,000 new high-quality spaces will be created in B.C.
This is real change you can count on.
By the end of next year, the average childcare fees for B.C. parents will be cut in half and there will be more than 12,000 $10-a-day spaces available.
To make all of this happen, we’ve worked incredibly hard with leaders within the Government of British Columbia, which will fund critical services, grow a strong and skilled workforce of early childhood educators, and expand not-for-profit and public delivery of early learning and childcare.
So, if you’re a parent, this landmark agreement led by the Government of British Columbia and the federal government means that help is on the way. We’re making your life easier and more affordable and we’re making sure kids get the best possible start in life.
And I want to add to all of those parents and families watching us across the country right now wondering when they’re going to have the opportunities that the work that British Columbia and the federal government have done together is going to deliver for families in B.C., we’re working on it.
We are right now excitedly working very closely with a number of jurisdictions across this country to follow B.C.’s tremendous progressive lead on delivering real support for families and real support for our communities as we build back better from this pandemic.
Of course, a good childcare system is an inclusive system.
As part of this agreement with the Government of British Columbia, our two governments have committed to providing more support for children with special needs.
We will also ensure that members of various vulnerable communities have equitable access to childcare spaces.
And we will work with our Indigenous partners to ensure that children have places in programs that take their culture into account.
This is a permanent partnership, with minimum ongoing annual funding of $9.2 billion right across the country.
That’s how you create a system: by working hand-in-hand with willing partners like the Government of B.C. to fund the services families depend on.
We’re building a better future for families. And as we do, we’re building a better economy, too.
Our Canada-wide childcare plan will help thousands of people—including women—be able to choose to build both a family and a career.
This is real, tangible progress.
This is what it means to be a feminist government.
Our early learning and childcare plan builds on investments we’ve already made in a more progressive parental leave system. Our plan also builds on the success of the Canada Child Benefit, which is increasing again this year and has already lifted hundreds of thousands of children right across the country, out of poverty.
Before I end today, I want to once again thank my friend Premier Horgan for his leadership and vision on this file.
John, as you well know, this is a game-changing policy for families.
B.C. has made unbelievably important progress on childcare since launching your own plan three years ago, and this foundation will allow us to move together quickly and boldly in the coming months and years.
And, of course, all of this work wouldn’t be possible without the advocacy of the childcare sector.
And that’s why it’s so important that you continue to have a seat at the table.
So to all the experts, advocates, educators, and providers who were so integral in encouraging not just governments but Canadians in continuing to demand better childcare opportunities for families, for communities, and for our future, thank you.
We’re here to support your valuable work.
And together, we will all continue building a future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success.
Thank you very much, my friends.