By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) - British Columbia on Thursday became the first Canadian province to sign on to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's national childcare plan, in a deal that could bolster the ruling Liberals in a key province ahead of a likely federal election this year.
Canada will invest C$3.2 billion ($2.56 billion) over five years under the plan, which will create tens of thousands of new daycare places and ensure all regulated spots in the province eventually cost just C$10 a day.
"When we talk about a feminist revival after this pandemic, that is what we are talking about: Concrete actions that will give everyone a chance to succeed," Trudeau told reporters.
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in April laid out a plan to invest up to C$30 billion over five years to set up a long-promised national childcare program and help more women get back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, which would cut childcare costs in half in the first year and then down to C$10-a-day within five years, requires provinces and territories to sign on, with the two levels of government splitting the cost.
"For people with young kids, this is huge ... This is real change you can count on," Trudeau said on Thursday.
Trudeau has publicly talked down election speculation, but sources say he is aiming for a snap vote in September to capitalize on Canada's emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Columbia will pay C$2.5 billion over three years under the deal. The province has already invested C$2 billion to advance its own childcare initiative.
($1 = 1.2518 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Sandra Maler)