West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler is trumpeting childcare funding as a big-ticket item from the federal budget that will have a significant impact on Squamish.
Speaking with The Chief on April 22, Weiler noted that it was historic to have a female finance minister, Minister Chrystia Freeland, introduce the budget April 19 — and the contents of the document show it.
"It's quite fitting that the big flagship item in the budget is on childcare," said Weiler."I know how expensive childcare is in Squamish and how hard it is to get into the waiting list. And the challenge of actually getting funding from the province under the parameters that it has."
Under the proposed budget, $30 billion will be spent over five years, with $8.3 billion per year after that to create and maintain a national childcare program.The ultimate goal is to deliver on a promise for $10-a-day childcare by 2025.
Weiler said he was aware of Squamish's childcare crisis.
For some time, a shortage in childcare in town has been a constant refrain from local parents.Weiler said getting more women into the workforce has been identified as the measure that can increase economic growth more than anything else.
He said that since childcare falls under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government will create agreements with provinces and territories to administer the funds."This will basically be providing resources to the provinces and territories so that they can provide childcare, but given they'll have to meet those price standards to be able to get access to it."
He said it will be up to provinces and territories to figure out how they will use the money.At the moment, it's too early to say how many spaces this will open up in Squamish.
Another highlight of the budget will be the uptick in green spending.With Squamish being home to clean-tech companies like Carbon Engineering and Nexii, the town's economy should be able to reap some of the benefits.
At least some of the $101.4 billion in recovery spending over three years is expected to help begin a transition to a green economy."We're cutting corporate taxes in half for companies that manufacture net-zero technologies. So that will be huge across the board," Weiler said.
At least some of these resources take notes from programs that one Squamish company has tapped into before."We also have support for cleantech sectors in putting a billion dollars on the table to help scale up with leading companies, and that's kind of similar to what Carbon Engineering was able to take advantage of a few years ago," said Weiler.
"We see the jobs of the future really are going to come from areas like green tech and we're going to be well-positioned in B.C."For those concerned with local salmon, he said there's a $647 million fund earmarked to help with struggling stocks.
Weiler, however, remained tight-lipped when asked about when an election may happen.For months now, there's been widespread speculation that the Liberal government will call an election sometime this year.
He noted his party maintains a minority government."We don't control how things are always going to go. We have to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons," said Weiler.
He noted that the tone of the house has changed.It's been a far less collegial environment when a nude photo of a member has been leaked, Weiler said, referring to the recent episode involving MP William Amos.
However, while Weiler was trumpeting the childcare plan advanced by the Liberals, the Sea to Sky's Conservative candidate was admonishing the move.
Conservative takeJohn Weston, who is hoping to unseat Weiler in the next federal election, called the measure a "despicable way to buy votes."
"There's no vote Justin Trudeau won't buy, and, certainly, no dreamy plan that he won't pursue," Weston told The Chief. "It's appalling to me that he seems to day after day spend more of our future generation's money."Weston said there are better ways to advance childcare.
"Let's remember that we can give parents opportunities by putting money in their pockets, by keeping the Canada Child Benefit," he said."And, I understand, especially in a place like Squamish with so many young families, this is important. But the huge cost — there's no chance this is going to be funded by its financial benefits."
He said there are alternative ways of helping parents pay the bills.Weston cited the Canada Child Benefit, provincial daycare subsidies, and an $8,000 tax deduction as some examples.
In the meantime, he said it was necessary to spend on items like relief for small businesses, mental health support, and green investment.When asked what the main difference between a Liberal and Conservative spending agenda, apart from childcare, Weston said his party was the responsible choice.
"Completely distinct is the focus on accountability," he said. "There's no sense we have to rein in deficits or debt from the Liberal side."