Nova Sco­tia NDP promis­ing $15 a day child care

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton/Province - BY MICHAEL TUTTON

Nova Sco­tia New Democrats are promis­ing to bring in $15a-day child care be­gin­ning next year if they win the May 30 pro­vin­cial elec­tion, a pledge the other par­ties quickly dis­missed as likely be­yond the prov­ince’s means.

Party leader Gary Bur­rill also said Tues­day that his party would pro­vide free child care to fam­i­lies whose net in­come is less than $30,000 an­nu­ally and cre­ate 400 new spa­ces across the prov­ince.

Bur­rill says av­er­age monthly fees for li­censed care cur­rently are in the range of $825 for a toddler and $781 for a pre-schooler, and par­ents need more as­sis­tance.

“We know that par­ents face few strug­gles as widespread and dif­fi­cult as the strug­gle to find af­ford­able, qual­ity child care for their kids,’’ he said.

He says the pro­gram would lead to the cre­ation of about 800 jobs ei­ther as a re­sult of the di­rect hir­ing of child care work­ers or as a re­sult of par­ents be­ing able to work.

The pro­gram’s an­nual cost would grad­u­ally rise over the next four years to $70 mil­lion per year by 2021.

The Lib­eral party has promised a free, uni­ver­sal pro­gram for four-year-olds, which by 2020 would see 9,000 chil­dren be­ing cared for at an an­nual cost of about $49 mil­lion.

Lib­eral Premier Stephen McNeil said Tues­day that his plan would live within the prov­ince’s means.

“One of the big­gest dif­fer­ences (be­tween the pro­pos­als) is we ac­tu­ally know how we’re go­ing to pay for it,’’ said the premier.

There are cur­rently about 18,885 li­censed child care spa­ces in a sys­tem that is a mix of not­for-profit cen­tres and prof­it­based day­cares, with a wide range of fees.

The ex­ist­ing sys­tem pro­vides sub­si­dies for low-in­come fam­i­lies, with about one quar­ter of the fam­i­lies re­ceiv­ing as­sis­tance. Fam­i­lies with a net in­come of $35,000 or less re­ceive the lion’s share of the as­sis­tance.

The av­er­age daily rate for in­fant care is $42 daily in Hal­i­fax, and the max­i­mum sub­sidy for poor fam­i­lies would cover about $29 of that, said a de­part­ment spokes­woman.

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