Announcing agreements to support the Lower Churchill Projects and $10 a day child care
Thank you to everyone joining us today.
Whether you are parents, children, educators, or students, we continue to work with you to build a better future for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and for all Canadians.
Earlier today, we had a very productive meeting with Premier Furey.
We talked about recovery from this pandemic which includes of course building a cleaner future and creating good, middle class jobs.
And I have to highlight that even as we struggle sometimes with political conversations around whether it’s the economy or the environment.
Andrew, like me, has understood from the very beginning that the only path forward for a stronger economy and for better jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is to also step up in our fight against climate change and in our investments in protecting the environment.
And that’s exactly why it’s been such a pleasure to work with you.
But I do have to highlight that for an oil-producing province like Newfoundland and Labrador, to recognize unanimously in your House of Assembly how important it is to move towards a net-zero future speaks well.
Not just of all your elective representatives but indeed all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who understand the path that we can take to build a better future for everyone.
So it’s an incredible pleasure to talk with you about that.
But also dig in a little more deeply to the provinces’ particular and unique situations and bring forward particular and unique solutions.
First off, let’s start with the financial restructuring of Muskrat Falls and the Lower Churchill Projects.
Our government is committed, and has been committed a long time, to working with Newfoundland and Labrador to make sure people in the Atlantic region have a reliable, long-term clean source of energy.
This province has a lot of hydroelectricity potential, and the Projects are part of our plan to reduce emissions in Canada and fight climate change.
So on that front, today, I can announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle, in which the federal government will provide $2 billion to help the Projects remain on stable financial footing.
That’s $1 billion as an investment in the province’s portion of the Labrador-Island Link, and $1 billion as a loan for the Muskrat Falls and Labrador Transmission Assets.
Secondly, and on a separate track, the federal government is prepared to commit to annual transfers that would be equivalent to the value of Canada’s net revenue from the Hibernia offshore project.
As all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians know, this has been a conversation that has been going on for many years between provincial and federal governments on the issue of Hibernia and we are very pleased to be able to come to this groundbreaking, forward-looking agreement for decades to come.
With revenue estimated to be around $3.2 billion over the remainder of its life, these transfers will ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the beneficiaries of this project, and that the province has what it needs to support the people who live and work here.
When it comes to building a better future for everyone, one of our top priorities is to be there for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
It’s a promise I made a long time ago to all of you, and it’s one we continue to stand by as we work forward together.
Of course, another promise that we made not just in the beginning of this pandemic, but from the beginning of my time in politics, is that we would be there for families. And we consistently have, whether it's with the CCB, with investments to support kids, and we are going to continue to make life more affordable and easier for families.
We know that the pandemic has been difficult for families, particularly for mothers, who far too often over the last year and a half had to choose between their children and their career.
Now, more than ever, is the time to build back better to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and thrive.
Here at the College of the North Atlantic, I had the chance to speak with parents, as well as students in the early childhood education program.
You all know that high‑quality, affordable child care is a necessity and that’s also why we’re here today.
In April, we laid out our plan to build the first-ever Canada-wide early learning and child care system in Budget 2021.
And this afternoon, we’re taking yet another step to make that a reality.
I can announce that we’ve reached an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador to make child care more accessible and more affordable for parents here in this province.
If you’re a family with young children, or if you’re planning to have kids, here’s what this agreement will mean for you:
As early as 2023, the average fees for children under six in regulated child care will drop from $25 a day to $10 a day.
In other words, you could be soon spending less than half of what you’re paying now.
And within five years, almost 6,000 new spaces will be created.
As part of the agreement, a new full-day, year-round pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds will also start rolling out in 2023.
For parents, this agreement is huge and it represents real change for hardworking families.
More affordable child care will help save hundreds of dollars every month for families right across the province.
It will allow more women to build careers knowing that their children are in good hands with great educators and providers.
And with quality child care, it will ensure that all kids get the best possible support in life.
As I mentioned earlier, I know that many of you here today are studying to become educators, or you’re already working as educators.
When I spent time in front of a classroom as a teacher – even if my students were a bit older than six – I remember how rewarding it was to accompany young people on their learning journey.
As educators, you get to make a difference every single day.
Your work is valuable, and our government will always be here to support you.
So today’s agreement will create good, well-paying jobs and greater opportunities for professional development to grow a strong, skilled workforce for early childhood educators.
Because supporting the recruitment and retention of qualified child care workers will be key to the long-lasting success of this plan.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have had to overcome a number of challenges, and we have seen how capable we are of achieving meaningful results when we work together.
And it is in this spirit of cooperation that we want to build an even better future.
Before I close, I would like to once again thank Premier Furey.
Andrew, I’ve known for a long time just how committed you are personally to building a better and cleaner future for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and it’s been a joy these past many months to work alongside you and your extraordinary team as we’ve gotten things done.
Thank you for your collaboration and mostly thank you for your leadership as I continue to look to forward working with you and your team as true partners.
Not just for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador but for the future of the entire country. Because together, we will build a future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success.
Thank you very much, friends.
Thank you, Andrew.