A re-elected Liberal Government will expand its Free Childcare for low-income families and Middle-Class Childcare Subsidy programs province-wide and will make the financial support that they provide to families more generous, ensuring that no family pays more than 15 per cent of its gross income on child care.
The Free Child Care and Middle Class Childcare Subsidy programs are currently available in Saint John and Edmundston after the first phase of the program was launched earlier this year. The programs will be expanded province-wide by March 2019.
While the Free Child Care Program will offer free childcare services across the province to families with a gross family income of $37,500 or less, Gallant explained that the subsidy program would also be enhanced province wide for low- and middle-income earners. Under the current program, families are subsidized so that no more than 20 per cent of their gross family income goes to child care fees. This threshold would be lowered to 15 per cent under this commitment.
These commitments build on a previous childcare promise by the Gallant Liberals in 2014 to increase the number of child care spaces in New Brunswick to 30,000 by 2020. The Gallant Government is well on track to meeting this commitment.
Earlier in the campaign, Gallant announced three other education-themed commitments:
- That a re-elected Liberal Government will eliminate interest on all current and future provincial student loans effective January 1, 2019;
- That a re-elected Liberal Government will enhance its signature Free Tuition program for students from low-income and middle class families, as well as its Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program by ensuring more New Brunswickers qualify for financial assistance. Gallant explained that the government will raise the threshold for the free tuition benefit from $60,000 to $70,000 and thereafter index it to inflation. It would also adjust the sliding scale of the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program accordingly;
- That a re-elected Liberal Government will invest to restore trades in schools across New Brunswick until every high school has modern trades infrastructure.
The Liberal Government recognizes the critical value of a free or affordable public education, both to individuals and to the province as a whole. This is why the Gallant Liberals have invested more in early childhood development and education than ever before in the history of the province, having cancelled the planned cuts by the previous Conservative Government and increasing the overall Education and Early Childhood Development budget by 15.9 percent since taking office in 2014. Along with the new 10-year education plans, the Liberal Government has implemented the following transformational changes in education:
- A Free Tuition program that more than 6,300 students benefited from last year alone;
- A Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program that benefited 1,425 students last year;
- An additional 100 teachers within the K-12 system; and
- Investments in literacy that have already generated improved test results.