December 03, 2015 - 12:59 PM
OTTAWA - The Liberals are attempting to put a lid on concerns raised about two taxpayer-funded nannies who provide care for Justin Trudeau's three young children.
Dogged with questions about the caregiver controversy, Kate Purchase, Trudeau's director of communications, released a statement Wednesday indicating the prime minister will adjust his staff complement to suit his family's needs.
"The prime minister will not expand the household staff of the prime minister's residence," Purchase said. "It is an ongoing process and will be finalized in the coming days."
This means the Trudeau caregivers are not additional full-time hires at the prime minister's residence — news that seems to have deflated some of the criticism.
Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says he doesn't think taxpayers need to be concerned if there is no additional cost.
"If they're prepared to shift ... some of the other uses of the staff, to give that up in exchange for child care services so taxpayers are not out any additional money, I don't see that as a problem," Wudrick said.
The nannies, considered special assistants under the Official Residences Act, have been hired for $15 to $20 an hour during the day and $11 to $13 at night — a fee nanny associations say reflects the average rate.
Opposition parties have raised questions about why Canadians are footing the bill for Trudeau's child care after he hammered the previous Conservative government for handing out benefits, such as a new universal child-care benefit, to wealthy families, including his own.
"Mr. Trudeau repeatedly, repeatedly said 'I am wealthy'," interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose told reporters following a caucus meeting Wednesday.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he was surprised the prime minister provided his family with child care as one of his "first official acts."
"Mr. Trudeau campaigned against universal child care and said families like his didn't need help with child care," Mulcair said. "I would like all Canadian families to have affordable child care."
Manuela Gruber Hersch, president of the Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada, has indicated she believes there is a greater issue at play amidst the controversy.
She says there is a shortage of nannies in Canada that became worse when the last government tightened the rules around temporary foreign workers.
Gruber Hersch says the Conservatives basically shut down the foreign nanny program, while many Canadians are not interested in working as caregivers.
It is unclear whether the women working for the Trudeau family originally came to Canada through the temporary foreign worker program.
Purchase has said the nannies are both Canadian citizens who were born outside of the country but have been here for some time. She has not provided dates.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015