Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair visited Kingston's YMCA on Wright Crescent on Tuesday to highlight federal government budget investments, with an emphasis on childcare.
Blair, joined by MP for Kingston and the Islands Mark Gerretsen and CEO of YMCA of Eastern Ontario Rob Adams, toured the YMCA facility including the child-care centre before addressing media.
Minister Blair, formerly police chief in Toronto, lauded the YMCA's work in childcare, saying the federal government is looking to learn from it.
He said the focus on childcare will make life more affordable to Canadians, and improve access to quality childcare.
"This Canada-Ontario early learning and childcare agreement is a five year deal that reduces childcare fees in the short term," Blair said.
"It will deliver 10 dollar a day childcare for Ontario families by the end of March 2026, and it is intended to create 86,000 new licensed early learning and childcare spaces in the province of Ontario."
He says the program has already reduced childcare fees on average by 25% as of this month, and brought attention to the Canada Child Benefit introduced in 2016 and increased last year.
Blair said that creation of licensed spaces will take some time, as the government looks to ensure they are filled with qualified staff.
He said places with excellent childcare spaces like the YMCA often face the hurdle of staffing the spaces.
"There is a challenge in hiring sufficient staff," Blair said.
"Creating those spaces is not just simply a matter of investing in brick and mortar, it's a matter of investing in people. People who are properly trained in early childhood education and who are able to do this job at a livable wage.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Blair said the federal budget is going to make "retirement more affordable for seniors" through initiatives like increases to the Canada Pension Plan.
Blair pointed to investments like a tax free first home savings account and a multigenerational home renovation tax credit as new spending that he says will make life more affordable.
"Budget 2022 is building on the important work and is making significant investments in a variety of areas that will make life more affordable for everyone," Blair said.
More information on budget 2022 investments can be found here.
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News