Transcript: Is Child Care Key to Canada's Economic Recovery? | Apr 20, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, checkered blue shirt, and midnight blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Is child care key to Canada's recovery? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says CALLING IT "A JOBS-AND-GROWTH HAT-TRICK," FEDERAL FINANCE MINISTER CHRYSTIA FREELAND PUT A NATIONAL CHILD CARE PLAN FRONT AND CENTRE IN HER FIRST EVER BUDGET. THE PRICE TAG IS IN THE BILLIONS AND NEEDS THE PROVINCES TO SIGN ON. LET'S FIND OUT IF IT'S FEASIBLE, AND IF IT'S ENOUGH, WITH: IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL: ECONOMIST ARMINE YALNIZYAN, ATKINSON FELLOW ON THE FUTURE OF WORKERS AND A MEMBER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S TASK FORCE ON WOMEN IN THE ECONOMY...

Armine is in her fifties, with long wavy gray hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray turtleneck sweater.

Steve continues IN OSGOODE, ONTARIO, JUST SOUTH OF OTTAWA: ALANA POWELL, EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR OF THE ASSOCIATION OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS ONTARIO...

Alana is in her thirties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a beige cardigan and a printed white blouse.

Steve continues AND IN ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO: KATE BEZANSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AND ASSOCIATE DEAN OF THE FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AT BROCK UNIVERSITY...

Kate is in her fifties, with long straight blond hair. She's wearing a black blazer and a burgundy blouse.

Steve continues WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE THE THREE OF YOU BACK ON OUR PROGRAM TONIGHT. I WANT TO JUST START BY PUTTING OUT THIS FACT FILE HERE. SO FOR THOSE WHO AREN'T RIGHT ON TOP OF THE NUMBERS FROM YESTERDAY'S BUDGET, YOU CAN BE UP TO SPEED. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD, LET'S BRING THIS UP AND I'LL READ THIS OUT LOUD FOR THOSE LISTENING ON PODCAST AS WELL.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "A new child care plan."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE PLAN IN YESTERDAY'S FEDERAL BUDGET, 30 BILLION DOLLARS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. IT WAS THE LARGEST LINE ITEM IN THIS BUDGET: CHILD CARE. 8.2 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR BUDGETED THEREAFTER. 2.5 BILLION DOLLARS FOR INDIGENOUS EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE. AND THE HOPE IS THAT THIS WILL CUT FEES BY 50 percent WITHIN 18 MONTHS, THE GOAL BEING CHILD CARE THAT WILL COST PARENTS 10 dollars A DAY PER CHILD BY THE YEAR 2026 NATION-WIDE. ARMINE, GET US STARTED. IS THIS THE CHILD CARE ANNOUNCEMENT YOU WERE HOPING FOR FOR?

The caption changes to "Armine Yalnizyan. Atkinson Foundation."
Then, it changes again to "The She-covery we need."

Armine says YES, SIR! I WAS BLOWN AWAY BY THIS ANNOUNCEMENT. IT WAS EVERYTHING WE WERE LOOKING FOR. AND MORE. AND NOW ALL WE ARE MISSING ARE THE PROVINCIAL DANCE PARTNERS, WHICH WILL BE POSSIBLY A BIG KICKUP IN THE COMING MONTHS. BUT THERE IS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL THE POLITICAL WILL TO SEE CHILD CARE AS A NECESSARY, CRITICAL ELEMENT OF THE SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE THAT CAN HELP CREATE A MUCH MORE RESILIENT AND POTENTIALLY LARGER ECONOMY.

Steve says WE'LL PURSUE THAT ANGLE OF WHETHER THE PROVINCES WILL SIGN ON IN JUST A MOMENT. ALANA, HOW ABOUT YOU? IS THIS THE ANNOUNCEMENT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR?

The caption changes to "Alana Powell. Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario."

Alana says ABSOLUTELY. I CAN SAY CONFIDENTLY THAT EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS ACROSS THE PROVINCE ARE FEELING MORE HOPEFUL THAN EVER ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE SECTOR. IT'S BEEN A REALLY LONG YEAR. IT'S BEEN A LONG NUMBER OF DECADES THAT FOLKS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR THIS. YESTERDAY I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING ON A CALL WITH GENERATIONS OF CHILD CARE ADVOCATES, NEW EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS WHO ARE JUST ENTERING THE PROFESSION, AND WE WERE COLLECTIVELY OVERWHELMED BY THIS COMMITMENT. AND WE'RE REALLY EXCITED TO WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND IN ONTARIO WITH OUR PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS HAPPENS FOR OUR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.

Steve says KATE BEZANSON, ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE IT UNANIMOUS OR ARE WE GOING TO GET YOU TO QUIBBLE WITH SOMETHING HERE?

The caption changes to "Kate Bezanson. Brock University."

Kate says THERE WILL BE NO QUIBBLING. ALL OF WHAT HAS BEEN SAID I WILL UNDERLINE AND SUPPORT. I WOULD SAY THIS IS HOW YOU BUILD A SYSTEM AND THIS IS A TRIPLE-WORD SCORE FOR OUR RECOVERY. IT'S GOOD FOR KIDS. IT'S GOOD FOR PARENTS. AND IT'S GOOD FOR OUR ECONOMY. I AM DELIGHTED, OVER THE MOON. IT'S FANTASTIC.

Steve says ARMINE, WE ARE CERTAINLY WELL AWARE OF HOW THIS PANDEMIC HAS AFFECTED WOMEN DISPROPORTIONATELY, GOING BACK OVER THE PAST 14 MONTHS OR SO. DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE KIND OF ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WILL ENABLE WOMEN TO GET BACK INTO THE LABOUR FORCE?

The caption changes to "Armine Yalnizyan, @ArmineYalnizyan."

Armine says IT IS THE ONLY POLICY AMENABLE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT ANY GOVERNMENT CAN MAKE BECAUSE THERE ARE GOING TO BE LARGE PARTS OF THIS THAT ARE UNCONTROLLABLE BY ANY GOVERNMENT. HOW MANY BUSINESSES SHUT DOWN PERMANENTLY BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC IS UNKNOWABLE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THE PANDEMIC IS NOT OVER. AND WE KNOW THAT LAST SPRING PARTICULARLY, WE HAD THE WORLD'S FIRST-EVER SHE-CESSION. AND IT HAPPENED GLOBALLY. BECAUSE THE COMPANIES THAT SHUT DOWN WERE MARGINAL, NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: IN PERSONAL SERVICES, IN RETAIL, IN HOSPITALITY... IN ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE JUST NOT ESSENTIAL TO EVERYDAY, BUT DISPROPORTIONATELY HIGHER LOW PAID WORKERS WHO HAPPEN TO DISPROPORTIONATELY BE WOMEN WHO ARE RACIALIZED AND RECENT IMMIGRANTS AND MIGRANT WORKERS. SO THOSE JOBS MAY NOT BE COMING BACK. BUT THE THING THAT WILL MAXIMIZE THE POTENTIAL FOR THINGS TO GET BACK TO NORMAL IS TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DON'T HAVE BUILT-IN POLICY CHOKEPOINTS IN THE SYSTEM, SO THAT WOMEN CAN ACCEPT WORK WHEN IT IS OFFERED TO THEM AND DON'T HAVE TO QUIT WORK BECAUSE THERE'S NO CHILD CARE AND THEY CAN'T KEEP GOING ON INDEFINITELY PROVIDING UNPAID CARE AT HOME AND DOING PAID WORK. SO THIS IS THE ONLY POLICY AMENABLE TOOL AVAILABLE TO ANY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT TO ASSURE WE ARE MAXIMIZING OUR ECONOMIC POTENTIAL FOR RECOVERY.

Steve says ALANA, LET'S DO SOME OF THE MATH HERE. ON AVERAGE, HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PUT A SINGLE CHILD INTO CHILD CARE?

The caption changes to "Alana Powell, @AECEO."

Alana says IT CAN DEPEND REALLY ON WHERE YOU ARE LOCATED IN THE PROVINCE, BUT MEDIAN FEES IN ONTARIO PER DAY RIGHT NOW, MEDIAN FOR AN INFANT SPACE, 66 dollars. TODDLER 54 dollars. PRE-SCHOOL 45 dollars. KINDERGARTEN SCHOOL AGE, 42 dollars. SO WHEN WE'RE LOOKING AT WHAT WAS PROMISED IN THIS BUDGET, 10 dollars A DAY, IT'S A DRASTIC AND TRANSFORMATIVE REDUCTION IN THE COSTS ASSOCIATED FOR FAMILIES. SO THIS WILL MOVE ONTARIO FORWARD AND CANADA FORWARD IN A BIG WAY IN TERMS OF ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND GENDER EQUITY, REALLY.

Steve says AND, KATE, AS YOU LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE IN ONTARIO JUST NOW, LET'S JUST FOCUS ON THIS PROVINCE, CAN YOU COMPARE, PLEASE, THE SUPPLY OF CHILD CARE AVAILABLE WITH THE DEMAND OF PARENTS WHO WANT IT?

The caption changes to "Kate Bezanson, @KateBezanson1."

Kate says SO, THE PANDEMIC IS AN IMPORTANT AND INTERESTING TIME. WE'VE SEEN THAT THE CHILD CARE SECTOR HAS IN FACT BEEN PUT INTO CRISIS IN PANDEMIC. WE'VE SEEN CHILD CARE CENTRES CLOSE OVER THE LAST YEAR. IN ONTARIO ALONE, 138 CENTRES HAVE CLOSED OVER THE LAST YEAR IN PANDEMIC. CHILD CARE HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ESSENTIAL, BUT ALSO HAS NEVER BEEN MORE FRAGILE. SO RIGHT NOW THERE ARE ACTUALLY CENTRES IN ONTARIO THAT NO LONGER HAVE WAITING LISTS, AND THAT IS AS A RESULT OF A NUMBER OF VARIABLES. ONE OF THOSE VARIABLES IS, AS WE'RE BACK... WE'RE BACK IN MARCH 2020 IF WE THINK ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF WHERE WE ARE IN ONTARIO IN THIS HEALTH CRISIS. WE HAVE SCHOOLS CLOSED. WE HAVE PARENTS BEING CALLED OR PUSHED OUT OF THE LABOUR MARKET AGAIN AS A RESULT OF THE SECTORS IN WHICH THEY WORK. SO WE'RE NOT IN A PERIOD YET OF RECOVERY OR MOVING TO THE OTHER SIDE. SO RIGHT NOW WE SEE THAT THERE ARE ACTUALLY FEWER... FEWER ENROLMENTS IN CENTRES THAN THERE WERE PRE-PANDEMIC, AND THIS IS IN PART OWING TO THE COST. PARENTS ARE MAKING A CALCULATION, IF I HAVE A SCHOOL-AGE KID AT HOME, I'M NOT GOING TO KEEP MY OTHER CHILD IN CHILD CARE AND PAY, IN TORONTO, 1500 A MONTH. IT'S OWING TO THE CALCULATION THAT PARENTS ARE DOING AROUND VECTORS OF TRANSMISSION AND LEVELS OF EXPOSURE OF MEMBERS OF THEIR HOUSEHOLD. SO THERE IS, OUTSIDE OF PANDEMIC, A HUGE DEMAND. WE NOW ARE GOING TO COME OUT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS WITH REDUCED SUPPLY AND A PRECARIOUS... A MORE PRECARIOUS SECTOR. SO THIS INVESTMENT RIGHT NOW IS ESSENTIAL TO GETTING US TO THE OTHER SIDE, TO JUST RETURNING US TO WHOLE, WITH ARE WE WERE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. AND WHERE WE WERE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC WAS NOT A LOT OF SPOTS FOR THE NUMBER OF KIDS WHO NEEDED THEM.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says WELL, LET ME DO A FAST FOLLOW-UP WITH YOU THEN, KATE. IF WE WANTED TO CREATE ENOUGH SPACES TO FULFIL ALL OF THE DEMAND FOR SPACES, WHAT IS THAT NUMBER?

Kate laughs and says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION, AND RIGHT NOW IN ONTARIO WE HAVE... SORRY, IN CANADA, WE HAVE SPACES FOR 27 percent OF KIDS WHO NEED CHILD CARE. SO LOOKING AT THE LANDSCAPE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WE CAN SEE THAT WE HAVE A BIG DISTANCE TO GO. QUEBEC, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS A MUCH, MUCH HIGHER RATE OF ACCESSIBILITY FOR CHILD CARE. SO ONTARIO IS GOING TO NEED TO DO A LOT OF WORK TO BUILD OUT THE NUMBER OF SPACES THAT ARE GOING TO BE AVAILABLE, AND THIS NEW FUNDING, THIS PROMISE IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET, GOES A GOOD DISTANCE TO PUTTING OPERATION ALIMONY ON THE TABLE TO BUILD OUT THOSE SPACES AND GROW A SYSTEM OVER TIME.

Steve says ALANA, I JUST WANT TO GET A SENSE OF IT, THOUGH. ARE WE TALKING ABOUT A NEED FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS? HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS? MILLIONS OF SPACES? WHAT IS IT?

Alana says TO START WE'RE LOOKING AT TENS OF THOUSANDS IN ONTARIO. WE KNOW WE'RE ONLY MEETING ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE NEED RIGHT NOW IN THE LICENSED CHILD CARE SECTOR, AND THAT WE CERTAINLY HAVE, YOU KNOW, THE DESIRE AND THE INTEREST FROM FAMILIES TO USE THE SERVICES WERE THEY AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE TO THEM. SO, YOU KNOW, STARTING SLOW, WE'RE CERTAINLY LOOKING AT 10,000 SPACES TO BEGIN WITH. BUT THE EXPANSION, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY IN TERMS OF WHAT EXACTLY WE NEED AND WHERE EXACTLY WE NEED IT BECAUSE NEED IS DIFFERENT ACROSS THE PROVINCE AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Steve says RIGHT. ALL RIGHT. ARMINE, ONE OF THE REASONS WE LOVE HAVING YOU ON THIS SHOW IS THAT YOU CAN TRANSLATE BUDGETTESE OR BUREAUCRATESE. YOU DON'T SPEAK IT BUT YOU CAN TRANSLATE IT, YOU UNDERSTAND IT. I WANT TO... HERE'S THE LINE. THE BUDGET SAYS 27.2 BILLION DOLLARS WILL BE USED "TO BRING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO A 50-50 SHARE OF CHILD CARE COSTS WITH PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENTS." TRANSLATE. WHAT DOES THAT ACTUALLY MEAN ON THE GROUND?

Armine says WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS IS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN MIA ON CHILD CARE FOR 50 YEARS AND THAT THE PROVINCES HAVE DONE MOST OF THE HEAVY LIFTING ON WHATEVER PATCHWORK OF SYSTEM WE HAVE ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NOW RECOGNIZES THAT THIS IS A MACROECONOMIC ISSUE. IT'S NOT JUST A FEMINIST ISSUE. THIS ISN'T JUST A FAMILY ISSUE. AND THIS IS GOING TO HOLD BACK A LOT OF PROVINCIAL REBOUNDING. SO THEY ARE OFFERING EFFECTIVELY FREE MONEY, YOU KNOW? THEY'RE SAYING YOU DON'T HAVE TO RAISE THE REVENUES IN YOUR PROVINCE... WHICH IS GOOD NEWS BECAUSE THE PROVINCES ARE MORE CASH-STRAPPED THAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS. SO THEY ARE OFFERING NEW INCREMENTAL FUNDING THAT IS LARGE, THAT'S SCALED UP, AND COMES WITH CONDITIONS BUT IS NOT CONDITIONAL ON COST-SHARING BY PROVINCES. AND AT THE END OF THAT 5 YEARS, THE HOPE IS THAT THEY WILL BE FULLY EQUAL PARTNERS WITH THE PROVINCES IN WHAT THE PROVINCES ARE CURRENTLY SPENDING. THEREAFTER AFTER FIVE YEARS WE'LL SEE WHETHER IT'S A COST-SHARED PROGRAM. BUT RIGHT NOW IT'S NOT EVEN COST-SHARED. IT JUST COMES WITH THE STRINGS SAYING: WE WILL GIVE YOU THE MONEY IF YOU ARE IMPROVING AFFORDABILITY, ACCESSIBILITY, AND QUALITY. AND THIS IS THE FIRST... THIS IS THE SECOND ROUND OF AGREEMENTS WITH THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS LIKE THIS. BECAUSE IN 2017, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALSO OFFERED MONEY TO IMPROVE AFFORDABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE'RE TALKING ABOUT QUALITY, WHICH IS SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AND IT'S A WHOLE LOT MORE MONEY AND IT'S FOR A MUCH LONGER TERM AND IT'S BASICALLY LAYING THE TABLE FOR THE NEXT ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS, BILATERAL NEGOTIATIONS PROVINCE BY PROVINCE.

Steve says WELL, ALANA, LET ME PLAY DESIGNATED KILLJOY HERE. BECAUSE I'M GOING TO GO BACK MORE THAN 50 YEARS TO A TIME WHEN THE FEDS AND THE PROVINCES WERE TALKING ABOUT CREATING MEDICARE IN THE COUNTRY, AND THEY DID, OF COURSE. AND THE UNDERSTANDING WAS THAT IT WOULD BE A SHARED 50-50 SPLITTING THE COSTS PROGRAM. NOW, OF COURSE IT'S NOT 50-50 ANYMORE. THE FEDS ARE CONTRIBUTED ABOUT 23 percent AND THE PROVINCES ARE PICKING UP THE VAST LION'S SHARE. HOW DO WE KNOW THAT A 50-50 PROGRAM TODAY WON'T 10, 20, 30 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD, WITH A DIFFERENT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, TURN INTO SOMETHING THAT LOOKS MORE LIKE MEDICARE AND LESS WHAT YOU PLAN TO SPEND TODAY?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Alana says THAT'S AN EXCELLENT QUESTION. AND I THINK WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT HERE IS THAT THIS IS A 5-YEAR PLAN. IT'S THE BEGINNING OF BUILDING A SYSTEM. SO THE 50-50 COST-SHARE AS A GOAL IS AMBITIOUS AND IT'S IMPORTANT AND IT'S WHAT WE NEED. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IS REALLY GOING TO BE ABOUT FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS THAT, YOU KNOW, REALLY TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHERE ARE WE GOING, HOW IS THE SYSTEM BUILDING HAPPENING, WHAT ARE THE NEEDS, AND TO REALLY SEE, YOU KNOW, WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS THAT WE'RE SEEING COME FROM THE SYSTEM, AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN TERMS OF NEXT STEPS? SO I THINK IT'S HARD RIGHT NOW TO PREDICT WHAT THIS WILL LOOK LIKE IN 10, 15, 20 YEARS. BUT CERTAINLY WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS PROPOSED IN TERMS OF THE FIRST 5 YEARS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED RIGHT NOW.

Steve says ALL RIGHT, FAIR ENOUGH. SORRY, GO AHEAD, ARMINE.

Armine says SORRY TO INTERRUPT. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ANALOGY. THE MEDICARE ANALOGY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. WHAT YOU HAVE FOCUSED ON IS THE CASH TRANSFER. BUT WHEN MEDICARE WAS CREATED, IT WAS CREATED AS BOTH CASH AND TAX POINT TRANSFERS BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT QUEBEC WANTED, FRANKLY, AND IT WAS AFTER THE WAR WHERE THE WAR HAD ACTUALLY SUCKED UP TAX ROOM FROM THE PROVINCES, TAKEN IT TO THE FEDERAL LEVEL, AND THE PROVINCES SAID: GIVE US BACK OUR TAX ROOM. SO MEDICARE WAS PREDICATED ON A COMBINATION OF TAX POINTS GIVEN BACK TO THE PROVINCES AND CASH. SO THE CASH PART IS ACTUALLY WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL ENVISIONING. IT WAS 50-50, BETWEEN TAX POINTS AND CASH. BUT THE PROVINCES, AFTER 1995, EVERYBODY HAD THIS ALLERGY TO RAISING TAXES, EVERYBODY WANTED TO CUT TAXES, SO EVERYBODY SAID: THE TAX POINT BASE DOESN'T HOLD BECAUSE NOBODY WANTS TO RAISE TAXES. SO WE ARE NOW OPERATING IN AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FISCAL FEDERALISM, WHICH IS ALL ABOUT CASH AND NOT ABOUT TAX ROOM. SO WE CAN'T MIX THOSE METAPHORS 100 percent OF THE WAY.

Steve says GOTCHA. ALL RIGHT. IN WHICH CASE, LET ME RAISE THIS WITH KATE THEN. WE KNOW... I MEAN, I GUESS SOME PEOPLE MIGHT BE ASKING THEMSELVES TODAY, IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WANTS TO CREATE A CHILD CARE PLAN, WHY DON'T THEY JUST DO IT? WELL, THE ANSWER, OF COURSE, IS THAT OUR CONSTITUTION GIVES RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE SOCIAL SERVICES TO THE PROVINCES. SO THEY HAVE TO NEGOTIATE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE PROVINCES. IN WHICH CASE, KATE, WHAT DO THE PROVINCES WANT AS THEIR PART OF THESE NEGOTIATIONS?

Kate says WELL, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT THE PROVINCES HAVE BEEN AT THE TABLE AT LEAST SINCE 2017 IN NEGOTIATING THE BILATERAL AGREEMENTS AND THEY WERE ROLLED OVER FOR A YEAR THIS PAST YEAR BECAUSE OF THE CONDITIONS IN PANDEMIC. SO THE PRINCIPLES AND AGREEMENTS HAVE ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED AND THIS BUILDS ON THOSE. ONE OF THE THINGS, OF COURSE, THAT ARMINE HAS SAID ABSOLUTELY CORRECTLY IS THAT THIS IS A MASSIVE INVESTMENT, AND WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS SAYING IT'S COMING TO THE TABLE WITH LOTS OF CASH AND IT WANTS TO BE AN EQUAL PARTNER, LET'S JUST LOOK LIKE RIGHT NOW IN ONTARIO THIS PAST YEAR. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRIBUTED ABOUT 145 MILLION DOLLARS TOWARDS EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE. WHERE THE PROVINCE CONTRIBUTED 1.6 BILLION DOLLARS. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS NOT BEEN A SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL PLAYER AT THE TABLE. SO NOW, TO BE ABLE TO SAY, "WE ARE GOING TO MOVE TO A POSITION OF BEING A 50 percent PARTNER AT THE TABLE," THIS ALLOWS PROVINCES TO SAY, "WE CAN PLAN. WE CAN BUILD OUR WORKFORCE. WE CAN BUILD A WAGE GRID. WE CAN SET FEE CAPS. WE CAN MAKE IT AFFORDABLE FOR PARENTS. WE CAN MAKE IT HIGH QUALITY. AND WE CAN BUILD OUT THE OPERATIONAL SPACES. AND WE HAVE A PARTNER WHO IS WILLING TO PUT REALLY SIGNIFICANT CASH ON THE TABLE YEAR OVER YEAR TO DO WHAT WE KNOW IS THE BEST PRACTICE IN BUILDING A SYSTEM AND PROVIDING ALL OF THOSE ECONOMIC OUTCOMES FOR THE ECONOMY THAT WE ARE GOING TO NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS VERY SIGNIFICANT AND DIFFICULT POSITION THAT WE'RE IN. THERE'S ALWAYS A PANDEMIC... THERE'S ALWAYS A FEDERALISM DANCE. I'VE BEEN CALLING THIS PANDEMIC FEDERALISM. WE ARE AT A DIFFERENT MOMENT. WE'VE SEEN, YOU KNOW, FRICTION, BUT ALSO THE NEED FOR COLLABORATION. AND WE NEED OUR ECONOMIC ENGINE TO BE READY TO GO AND TO FIRE. AND TO GET IT TO FIRE, WE NEED TO DO THIS INVESTMENT NOW, BUILD THIS SYSTEM SO THAT WE CAN HAVE THAT KIND OF GDP RETURN, THOSE KINDS OF TAXATION REVENUES, THE KINDS OF HUGELY IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTAL OUTCOMES THAT ARE GOING TO SET UP OUR KIDS FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE FUTURE AND OF COURSE TO BE A REALLY IMPORTANT FUTURE WORKFORCE TO TAKE CARE OF ALL OF US BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO BE THE AGING POPULATION THAT'S GOING TO NEED THEM AND WE HAVE A SMALLER POPULATION COMING UP COMPARED TO THE POPULATION THAT'S AGING.

Steve says ALANA, LET ME DO A LITTLE DEEPER DIVE ON THIS ANGLE, THOUGH. I MEAN, USUALLY WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TRIES TO BECOME AN EQUAL PLAYER WITH THE PROVINCES IN A PARTICULAR SOCIAL SERVICE, THERE ARE STRINGS ATTACHED. SO THE FEDS OFTEN SAY: HERE'S THE MONEY, BUT YOU'VE GOT TO DO X, Y, AND Z. WHAT'S THE X, Y, AND Z IN THIS CASE THAT THE FEDS ARE GOING TO INSIST ON FOR THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THEY'RE PUTTING IN?

Alana says WELL, THERE ARE STILL DETAILS TO COME. BUT WHAT IS REALLY CLEAR IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE BUDGET IS THAT THEREBY A PRIORITY ON NOT-FOR-PROFIT SERVICES. THERE IS A PRIORITY ON QUALITY. AND THERE IS, WE SUSPECT, A PRIORITY ON FUNDING THE SERVICES, BECAUSE WHAT THEY'RE REALLY TALKING ABOUT HERE IS BUILDING A SYSTEM, NOT ANOTHER TAX CREDIT, NOT ANOTHER ONE-TIME PAYMENT TO SET UP A PROGRAM. THIS IS ABOUT BUILDING, IT'S ABOUT FUNDING THE SERVICES. SO WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE SOME RESTRICTIONS AND MEASURES ON HOW THAT MONEY IS SPENT AND REALLY THAT'S IMPORTANT IN OUR PROVINCE. THIS IS A LOT OF MONEY. IT'S IMPORTANT TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. AND WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE WE GET IT RIGHT. AND SO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES HAVE A LEADERSHIP ROLE TO PLAY HERE IN SETTING THOSE EXPECTATIONS, BUT, YEAH, A LOT IS STILL TO COME IN THE DETAILS.

Steve says WELL, SPEAKING OF THE DETAILS... ALL RIGHT. ARMINE, I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE IN THIS. THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO SAY, RATHER THAN USING PUBLIC MONEY TO CREATE SPACES, YOU SHOULD DO WHAT KIND OF THE STEPHEN HARPER APPROACH WAS, WHICH WAS SIMPLY TO FLOW MONEY TO PARENTS AND LET THEM MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT WHETHER THEY WANT TO SPEND THAT MONEY ON ACTUAL CHILD CARE IN A PROFESSIONAL SETTING OR USING THAT MONEY FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSES AS IT RELATES TO CHILD CARE. THEY ARE GOING TO LOOK AT THIS 30 BILLION DOLLAR PRICE TAG AND THEY'RE GOING TO SAY OMG. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE TODAY?

The caption changes to "How it will work."

Armine says UM, WE'VE DONE IT THEIR WAY FOR 50 YEARS. SO THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT FLOWS TO PARENTS THROUGH THE CANADA CHILD BENEFIT, AND DON'T FORGET IN THE FALL ECONOMIC STATEMENT THERE WAS ANOTHER 2.4 BILLION DOLLARS THAT WAS MONEY IN YOUR POCKET. MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET IS ALWAYS THE CONSERVATIVE SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING, WHETHER IT'S A TAX CUT OR SOME TYPE OF REFUNDABLE TAX CREDIT, OR WHATEVER IT IS, IT'S ALL ABOUT MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET. MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET DOES NOT BUILD ONE MORE NEW REGULATED HIGH QUALITY SPACE. IT DOES NOT TRAIN ONE MORE PERSON. IT DOES NOT ENFORCE QUALITY CONTROL. AND I WANT TO GO BACK TO YOUR QUESTION, ACTUALLY, ABOUT WHAT DO THE PROVINCES... WHAT DO THE FEDS WANT FROM THE PROVINCES AND WHAT ARE THEY LIKELY TO ASK THE PROVINCES FOR? AND I WANT TO POINT OUT THAT ONTARIO, AS MUCH AS WE TALK ABOUT QUEBEC BEING THE LEADER OF THE PACK IN CANADA IN TERMS OF AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE CHILD CARE, WHICH IT IS... THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. IT TOOK WOMEN'S EMPLOYMENT RATE FROM BELOW AVERAGE TO ABOVE AVERAGE AND IT IS NOW THE WORLD LEADER IN LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES OF WOMEN WITH CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF THREE. SO WE KNOW HOW TO GET MORE MOMS WORKING. BUT THAT ISN'T THE ONLY THING. WE WOULD BE LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE IF WE ARE NOT IMPROVING THE LEARNING POTENTIAL OF CHILDREN, MAKING SURE THEY'RE LEARNING-READY WHEN THEY ENTER SCHOOL, AND LEARNING-SUPPORTED AS THEY GO THROUGH SCHOOL. WE LITERALLY KNOW THAT THAT PAYS FOR ITSELF, IN ADDITION TO MOMMIES GETTING BACK TO WORK. AND IN ONTARIO, WE ARE THE LEADERS IN HIGH QUALITY CARE FOR 4 AND 5-YEAR-OLDS. NOT BECAUSE OF PREMIER FORD BUT BECAUSE OF EX-PREMIER WYNNE, WHO INTRODUCED FULL-DAY JUNIOR AND SENIOR KINDERGARTEN. IN FACT, PREMIER LEGAULT CAMPAIGNED ON THAT WHEN HE WAS TRYING TO BECOME THE LEADER. SO EVERY PROVINCE HAS GOT A QUALITY ISSUE AS WELL AS AN ACCESSIBILITY ISSUE. EVEN QUEBEC HAS CHILD CARE DESERTS. EVERY PROVINCE IS GOING TO COME TO THAT TABLE FOR BILATERAL NEGOTIATIONS LOOKING FOR THE THINGS THAT ARE A PRIORITY FOR THEM TO IMPROVE. JUST LIKE THEY DID IN 2017. EXCEPT NOW THERE'S A QUALITY PART OF THIS THAT HAS BEEN EXPLICITLY LABELED, WHICH HAS GOT TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF THE PEOPLE PROVIDING THE CARE. AND IF YOU ARE UNDERPAYING PEOPLE AND DID HE REGULATING THEIR QUALIFICATIONS, YOU'RE GOING TO GET SUB OPTIMAL CARE FOR OUR YOUNGEST LEARNERS. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? WHY WOULD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT POUR MONEY INTO A SUB-PAR SYSTEM? THAT'S WHY I THINK ALL THREE OF US ARE SO EXCITED. YES, THERE'S A LOT OF MONEY ON THE TABLE AND THERE ARE NOT SO MUCH CONDITIONS AS DEALS THAT WILL BE COBBLED PROVINCE BY PROVINCE. WE HAVE A FRAMEWORK THAT REALLY LIFTS UP THE IMPORTANCE OF THE QUALITY OF THE CARE THAT CHILDREN ARE RECEIVING. THAT'S A HUGE BREAKTHROUGH.

Steve says JUST A LITTLE PIECE HERE, ARMINE, FOR THE RECORD. I DON'T THINK THERE'S A CHANCE IN H-E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS THAT DALTON McGUINTY IS WATCHING US RIGHT NOW. IF HE WERE I THINK HE WOULD BE YELLING AT THE TV SET SAYING, "IT WAS ME WHO DID IT, IT WASN'T KATHLEEN WYNNE, IT WAS ME." FOR THE RECORD.

Armine says MY APOLOGIES TO THE FORMER PREMIER.

Steve says KATE, THE WHOLE ISSUE OF QUEBEC HAS BEEN RAISED AGAIN AND LET ME DO A QUICK FOLLOW ON THAT. IS THE QUESTION MODEL. WHICH AS WE'VE JUST HEARD FROM ARMINE GETS KUDOS ALL THE TIME. IS IT EXPORTABLE TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY?

Kate says YES, I THINK IT REALLY IS. THE THING ABOUT THE QUEBEC MODEL, AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO HOLD IN THE BACK OF OUR MINDS, IS THAT QUEBEC LAUNCHED A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW AND REFORM OF ITS FAMILY POLICY THAT INCLUDED BOTH PARENTAL LEAVE AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE. BUT WHAT THEY DID IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE WAS THEY DID WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET, WHICH IS FUNDING THE SERVICES, FUNDING THE WORKFORCE, AND BUILDING OPERATIONAL CAPACITY. THOSE ARE THE THREE PILLARS THAT ARE ABSOLUTELY NEEDED AND ARE SCALABLE TO HAVE THE KINDS OF OUTCOMES THAT WE'VE SEEN IN QUEBEC. YOU KNOW, ARMINE HAS ALLUDED TO THE KIND OF RETURN ON INVESTMENT IN THE QUEBEC MODEL. WE KNOW THAT FOR EVERY DOLLAR INVESTED YIELDS CONSERVATIVELY MORE THAN DOUBLE IN RETURN. AND WE SAW THAT IN QUEBEC OVER THE PERIOD FROM ABOUT 1997 TO 2016, THE INVESTMENTS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE, AND OF COURSE IN OTHER AREAS OF FAMILY POLICY, YIELDED A 16 PERCENTAGE POINT INCREASE IN WOMEN'S LABOUR MARKET PARTICIPATION. ELSEWHERE IN CANADA THAT WAS JUST 4 percent OVER THE SAME PERIOD. SO WE SEE THAT THAT KIND OF COMPREHENSIVE, ATTENTION TO DESIGN, WITH THOSE THREE PRINCIPLES ATTENDED TO YIELDS THE KIND OF DEVELOPMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC OUTCOMES THAT ARE GOOD FOR KIDS, GOOD FOR PARENTS, AND GREAT FOR OUR ECONOMY.

Steve says LET ME DO THIS WITH ALANA, BECAUSE OF COURSE WHEN YOU SAY "CHILD CARE," THAT MEANS A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE. AND I GUESS WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND, IS THE MONEY IN YESTERDAY'S BUDGET ANNOUNCED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DESIGNED TO GO TO NOT-FOR-PROFIT LICENSED CHILD CARE OPERATORS ONLY, OR DO THE INDEPENDENTS AND-OR FOR-PROFITS GET A PIECE OF THIS ACTION AS WELL?

Alana says IT SEEMS LIKE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS INDICATING A PREFERENCE FOR NOT-FOR-PROFIT SERVICE DELIVERY, ALTHOUGH IT'S UNCLEAR WHAT THAT REALLY LOOKS LIKE. AGAIN, THE DETAILS TO COME. IN ONTARIO RIGHT NOW ABOUT 75 percent OF CHILD CARE SERVICES ARE DELIVERED THROUGH NOT-FOR-PROFIT MODELS. SO I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO BE LOOKING FOR THE PROVINCES TO CONTINUE INVESTMENTS IN THOSE AREAS, AND THAT'S FOR A NUMBER OF GOOD REASONS WE KNOW. EVERY DOLLAR INVESTED INTO A NOT-FOR-PROFIT PROGRAM GOES DIRECTLY BACK INTO THE PROGRAM. IT SUPPORTS HIGHER STAFF WAGES, BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS, SUPPLIES FOR THE CHILDREN. SO IT REALLY ENHANCES THE QUALITY THAT IS SO IMPORTANT IN THIS FEDERAL BUDGET AND THAT WE'VE NEVER REALLY SEEN GOVERNMENTS TAKE ON QUITE SO ROBUSTLY. SO I THINK THAT'S AN IMPORTANT QUESTION, AND I THINK IT'S A QUESTION THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SEE HOW WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S DO THIS FAST HERE. STAT BOARD 2, SHELDON. IS THIS A CAREER PEOPLE STILL WANT TO GO INTO? IS THE QUESTION. AND ALANA'S ASSOCIATION DID SOME SURVEYING, 2,000 NEARLY REPLIED.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Forgotten on the front lines."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
43 percent SAY THEY'RE CONSIDERING LEAVING THE EARLY YEARS SECTOR. 13 percent ARE ACTIVELY SEEKING OPPORTUNITIES OUTSIDE THE SECTOR. 89 percent REPORT AN INCREASE IN JOB-RELATED STRESS. 54 percent REPORT DECREASED JOB SATISFACTION OVER THE PAST YEAR. NATURALLY A COMMON CONCERN BEING THAT INCREASED SANITIZATION RESPONSIBILITIES ARE TAKING AWAY FROM TIME NORMALLY SPENT WITH KIDS. I GUESS, ALANA, MY QUESTION IS: HOW DIFFICULT IS IT GOING TO BE TO BUILD THE KIND OF SYSTEM YOU WANT WHEN SO MANY PEOPLE ARE APPARENTLY EITHER UNHAPPY IN IT OR MAY ACTUALLY WANT TO GET OUT OF IT?

Alana says I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO BE THAT DIFFICULT. WE KNOW THE SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION ISSUES IN OUR SECTOR. WE DID BEFORE THE PANDEMIC AND CERTAINLY THEY'VE BEEN EXACERBATED BY IT AS YOU SAW IN THOSE FIGURES. WE'RE HEARING FROM EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS THAT THEY'RE STRESSED, THEY'RE EXHAUSTED, THEY'RE FRUSTRATED, THEY'RE FEELING LEFT BEHIND BY THIS PROVINCE, AND THEY'RE READY FOR CHANGE. BUT WHAT'S REMARKABLE ABOUT OUR SECTOR IS THEIR COMMITMENT AND THEIR DEDICATION TO THE WORK THAT THEY DO. WHAT THEY NEED IS DECENT WORK. THEY NEED PROFESSIONAL PAY AND COMPENSATION. THEY NEED ACCESS TO A WAGE GRID, A PUBLICLY FUNDED WAGE GRID. WE KNOW THE POLICY SOLUTIONS AND THE FUNDING SOLUTIONS TO GET THERE. IT'S JUST A MATTER OF POLITICAL WILL. AND I HAVE TO SAY, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE'VE SEEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZE THAT VALUING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS AS THE HEART OF THE SYSTEM, THIS IS MONUMENTAL LANGUAGE FOR OUR SECTOR. THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE LIVES. SO I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS GOT IT RIGHT. WE KNOW THAT THIS WILL TAKE INVESTMENT INTO THE WORKFORCE. BUT THAT IS A KEY COMPONENT OF FUNDING THE SERVICES. YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THEM.

Steve says KATE, I'M LITERALLY DOWN TO 20 SECONDS HERE. BUT I AM KIND OF CURIOUS. DO YOU THINK IT TOOK A WORKING MOM AS A FEMALE FINANCE MINISTER TO GET THIS THROUGH, ULTIMATELY?

Kate says YOU KNOW, I THINK IT... YES. I DO IN SOME WAYS. IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IS OUR FIRST GENDER EQUAL CABINET IN CANADIAN HISTORY. I THINK THAT HAVING A WOMAN FINANCE MINISTER DELIVER THIS IS HISTORIC AND IMPORTANT, AND I THINK THAT IT SHOWS THAT WE MAY HAVE BEEN THINKING THE WRONG WAY ABOUT GETTING CHILD CARE FORWARD BECAUSE WE NEEDED TO HAVE MORE WOMEN AT THE TABLE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. I'M VERY GRATEFUL THAT WE'VE ARRIVED AT THIS POINT.

Steve says GOTCHA. WELL, AS I THANK THE THREE OF YOU FOR COMING ON OUR PROGRAM TONIGHT, THE ONE QUESTION I DIDN'T GET TO ASK BUT REALLY WANT TO IS: ARMINE, HOW MANY LP RECORDS DO YOU HAVE BEHIND YOU AT THE MOMENT? THAT IS AMAZING.

Armine laughs and says UH, I AM LOOKING AT AN AUDIO FAN AND WE DO A LOT OF DANCING IN THE KITCHEN. I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY RECORDS WE GOT.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says THAT IS WONDERFUL. I BET YOU'LL BE DANCING TONIGHT. ARMINE YALNIZYAN, ALANA POWELL, KATE BEZANSON, IT'S SO GOOD OF ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT. MANY THANKS.

The guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Is Child Care Key to Canada's Economic Recovery?