Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped in Clarenville to tout the federal government's $10-a-day child care plan on Wednesday — but the provincial opposition says without sufficient staff, that plan can't work.
The $10-a-day plan, which Trudeau announced nearly two years ago, was implemented on Jan. 1, 2023.
"Families across the province are now paying $10 a day. Not only is this saving families here an average of $6,300 per child in regulated care, but it's also making our economies stronger," he said while speaking with reporters.
During an event billed on his itinerary as a "child care announcement," Trudeau said $10-a-day child care was implemented ahead of schedule — though when the plan was announced in 2021, 2023 was set as a target for Newfoundland and Labrador.
But during question period in the House of Assembly, Progressive Conservative MHA Barry Petten said though child care may be more affordable, it remains inaccessible — with hundreds of people on waitlists for some daycares.
"Parents cannot take advantage of $10 day child care because there's not enough spaces, because there are not enough early childhood educators. Did the premier get a commitment from the prime minister to to increase the number of staff child care spaces in this province?" he asked.
Responding to a reporter question about child-care waitlists, Premier Andrew Furey said the federal and provincial governments can respond to both issues simultaneously.
"That is going to take some time, but we are putting the right measures in place," he said.
Furey said those measures include a new wage grid for early childhood educators due April 1, an increase in ECE trainees, the creation of pre-kindergarten and offering incentives to convince more people to pursue a career in childcare.
The provincial and federal governments have also promised to create 6,000 new daycare spaces over five years.
Later, nearly 200 people attended a town hall with Trudeau, hosted by the Clarenville Chamber of Commerce.
The prime minister fielded questions about the war in Ukraine, health care shortages, housing, and aquaculture.
His visit came just three weeks after his opponent, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, visited the Clarenville Legion and spoke with supporters about his platform, including axing the carbon tax to not include home heating oil, which is something residents of the province are facing starting July 1.
Trudeau, Furey tout 'great' working relationship
But during the visit, both Trudeau and Furey reiterated the strength of their relationship.
"Premier Andrew Furey does an outstanding job at his job, which is standing up for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and trying to look out for them every step of the way. My role is to make sure I'm standing up for all Canadians at the same time," he said.
Furey pointed to examples of the two governments working together — like the Muskrat Falls rate mitigation deal.
"We have a great working relationship," he said.