Announcing agreement with the N.W.T. on $10 a day child care and updating Canadians on COVID-19
What a pleasure to be here today joined with Ministers Gould, Minister Vandal and MP Michael McLeod. It’s great to be here with Premier Cochrane as well from the Northwest Territories, as well as Minister Simpson who’s joining us virtually.
Children deserve to have the best possible start in life. Daycares are essential, but they are also part…a big part of a family’s budget. Mothers shouldn’t have to choose between the well-being of their children and their own career, and yet that’s exactly what is all too often happening to families across the country. This is why we made the decision to move forward with a solution.
Today we’re delivering on positive change for families right across the Northwest Territories, adding to the great news of signed agreements right across the country.
From the very beginning, we sat down to talk childcare with the government of the Northwest territories and have had over the past many months extremely, extremely productive discussions that were always focused on, not just the goals shared by families from coast to coast to coast of affordable high-quality childcare spaces, but recognizing the particular challenges that come with living in the north.
That's why we worked very, very hard to tackle those unique challenges and I'm very pleased to announce that we have agreed… reached an agreement today that will have a huge impact on families across the Territory. By this coming March, childcare fees will be cut in half for families across the Northwest Territories. And within five years, there'll be an average of $10-a-day for childcare everywhere across the territory. Families in Yellowknife will save up to $9500 a year with this new agreement.
We're also going to create with 300 new spaces, and importantly, support the workers by creating a wage grid and a certification process for evaluators, because qualified, quality early learning and childcare educators are at the heart of delivering the quality of learning and care, that kids right across the country and in the Northwest Territories deserve.
Childcare is good for parents, it's good for kids, but it's also good for the economy. This is the thing that was made so clear to so many families over the course of this pandemic as people had to stay home, as people realized the challenges that come with having young kids and not having good places to send them. That's why we're there; better start for kids, more support for moms and families, and better growth in our economy as more women can join the workforce.
As the cost of living rises, we will continue to be there for middle-class families in Canada. We’re making childcare more affordable, with more childcare spaces for everyone.
Nine provinces and two territories have now reached agreements with the federal government, and I can say, based on my conversations with Premier P.J. Akeeagok of Nunavut just yesterday, that we're looking very good to move forward on an agreement on childcare with the third territory – Nunavut – early in the new year.
We are ready to work together with provinces and territories right across the country to deliver $10-a-day high quality childcare for every family in Canada.
Last night I had a meeting with all the premiers in a First Ministers Meeting to talk about how we were going to make sure we're keeping families safe from COVID-19 as we enter this holiday season. It's the last thing families want to be dealing with right now, but COVID and the presence of Omicron is back with a vengeance.
So, as much as we don't want to, as much as we want it to be in the past, we're having to step up together to support Canadian as we all make the right choices to have safe and happy holidays, but also to make sure that as we get into the new year, we're preventing our loved ones and we're preventing our healthcare systems from being affected and overwhelmed.
I spoke with Premier Horgan, Chair of the Council of the Federation, and asked him to get all the premiers together. The situation is serious and we needed to act.
So… in this 35th First Ministers meeting we held last night, we talked about ensuring as many Canadians as is possible are vaccinated, including children, and with boosters. My 7-year-old just got vaccinated couple of weeks ago, and I can tell you I'm feeling a lot better now that I know he is safer with the arrival of Omicron.
And I know families across the country are realizing that it's time to get kids vaccinated, but it's also time to get boosters. As I approach my 50th birthday in a week or so – don't remind me and don’t laugh Caroline – I'm looking forward to getting my booster. And new changes in Ontario means I might even be able to get it before my birthday.
But the important thing is we know that a third dose of an mRNA vaccine keeps you significantly safer from COVID, from catching it, but mostly from the serious impacts of getting it. We want to avoid hospitalizations. We want to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system. That's what we're facing as a potential challenge right now.
So, as the Deputy Prime Minister said yesterday in the economic and fiscal update, the federal government will continue to be there for provinces and territories, with rapid tests, with supports for improved ventilation, with therapeutics, and yes, with more boosters.
We have enough boosters in this country to ensure that everyone can get a third shot. So, please, as soon as your province or territory makes it available for your age group, book an appointment, go keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Canadians know how to do this, and we will continue to do the right thing to keep our loved ones safe and to ensure that the impact of COVID doesn't drag down all of us once again.
It’s difficult and discouraging to see the situation get worse and the cases climb, so it is still very important to follow public health guidelines. And unfortunately, the federal government has therefore made the decision to advise against all non-essential travel.
Now is not the time to travel. And I know after the year we've had, after the almost two years we've had, people were really looking forward to getting away, to not having to think about COVID, but the reality is, we have to think about COVID. Omicron means we have to be even more careful, and that’s why we’ve raised the travel advisory to advising against all nonessential travel.
Earlier, we announced new measures, the advisory against nonessential international travel, and ramping up testing at the border for people coming home. We have to be careful during this holiday season. Get your kids their shots, we’ve secured enough for those for everyone. For adults we’ve secured enough boosters, so when it's your turn please get it.
And take a moment this holiday season to reflect on your loved ones, on family, on this time where we gather with fewer people than perhaps we would have liked, but celebrate those closest to you by doing the one thing that matters more than just about anything else right now, which is keeping yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible. And as a federal government we will continue to be there to have your backs.