Trudeau says up to provinces to lead on future child-care programs

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is putting the onus on provinces to work out any future national child care program.

During a pre-election roundtable with the Toronto Star newspaper, the Liberal leader said any future federal involvement from his government, if it's re-elected next month, would be as a partner.

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He defended his government's 10-year, $7.5-billion funding commitment to child care across the country, saying that it fulfilled the campaign pledge the Liberals made four years ago.

The 2015 Liberal platform promised a national child-care framework for provinces, territories and First Nations that would set high-level goals around affordability, quality and accessibility for families that wanted to use the service.

It was a departure from what the Liberals had promised a decade earlier, when in the waning days of Paul Martin's government the Grits pledged $5 billion to create a national child care program.

The 2015 platform called such a one-size-fits-all system "impractical and unfair."

Trudeau said the federal government shouldn't tell provinces how they should deliver services for citizens, noting that Ottawa wouldn't step in if a province made changes to health care services, for example.

Three-year child-care funding deals the federal government signed with provinces and territories will be up for negotiation in 2020, and Trudeau isn't saying what a re-elected Liberal government would want to see in the updated pacts.

He also said the Liberal platform will have something to say about the federal minimum wage, which labour groups have advocated be raised to $15 per hour, a national pharmacare program, and looking at tailoring housing affordability supports to local needs.

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