LIBS PITCH BUDGET
Tout merits of child care
Liberal Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Finance Minister Mona Fortier says the federal government's proposed national childcare program would save the average local family $434 per month starting next year.
That's as long as a deal is reached with the province on implementation.
The ultimate goal of the new program revealed in this week's federal budget is to create $10-a-day child care by 2026.
“We've been working with provinces and territories to increase child care the last two years, so it's not like we're starting new conversations,” said Fortier in a phone interview prior to a virtual meeting with the Windsor-essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
“It's going to be an economic game changer for many communities.
“In Windsor right now people are paying $868 a month on average for child care. Imagine slashing that by 50 per cent. It means $434 more in their pockets.”
Fortier said the program is a linchpin in revitalizing the economy and expanding the talent pool for Canadian employers.
The minister also highlighted the investment of $656.1-million over five years towards modernizing Canada's border.
“Our objective is to have a safe and timely flow of people and goods,” Fortier said. “It's really integral to our country in an economic recovery.”
Fortier added there are also key investments to allow Canada to manufacture critical products within its border and domesticate supply chains.
There's $9.6 million to support the mining industry in supplying the critical minerals needed in the green economy and money for Canada's health-care manufacturing sector.
“We are investing over $2 billion to support Canada's life sciences and bio-manufacturing sectors to rebuild the vaccine manufacturing capacity we have in our country,” Fortier said.
Chamber of commerce CEO/ president Rakesh Naidu said the hour-long meeting gave businesses, — which are happy with the budget — an opportunity to address local issues.
Among the more prominent topics was the border, rapid testing opportunities and the uniqueness of border communities.
“We highlighted the need for specific supports for border communities,” Naidu said. “They're aware of the problems for our manufacturers.”
Naidu also raised the possibility of accessing extra vaccines in Michigan that often go to waste.
He wonders if the vaccination agreement between Manitoba-north Dakota can be replicated here.
“Why can't the two governments figure out a way to use vaccines that they're throwing away daily in Michigan?” said Naidu, who added Fortier would raise the possibility with Ottawa.
MP Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor West) said there were several promising new programs in the budget, but their feasibility lies in the details.
“I see there's enough in there that we can take advantage of some interesting opportunities,” Masse said.
“We want to see something done on child care. The automotive file we've been pushing for on electric vehicles and producing batteries. I saw some money set aside.”
The NDP'S other priorities are to make sure support programs are tweaked to help people ride out the rest of the pandemic.
Masse said areas where the budget falls short are new taxes on people and companies that have thrived during the pandemic, addressing the absence of the Toronto-windsor corridor in high-speed rail plans and the lack of plans for the Great Lakes.
“Internet companies, grocery stores, billionaires need to pay more to help fund some of these programs in the budget,” Masse said.
MP Irek Kuszmierczyk (L — Windsor-tecumseh) said the budget addresses many of the ills the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed locally.
“This budget feels like it was written for Windsor-tecumseh,” Kuszmierczyk said.
“This is a budget that's not only going to help our community heal a lot of the economic hurt we've felt during COVID, but it also positions us moving forward to really get our economy on the right track.”
Kuszmierczyk said the government's investments in green technology and innovation will support local manufacturing and tech companies.