Opposition criticizes Trudeau's taxpayer-funded caregivers

Tories say the family should foot the bill; New Democrats criticize low wages.

OTTAWA – Opposition parties are taking aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for using taxpayer dollars to pay for two nannies helping to care for his three young children.

During the election campaign, Trudeau attacked the Conservative government for handing out tax cuts and benefits, including a new universal child care benefit, to Canada’s wealthiest families — including his own.

As a result, said interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, he ought to be footing the child care bill out of his own pocket.

“I think the right thing to do would be for his family to just pay that himself,” Ambrose said in an interview.

New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson, the party’s status of women critic, called out the prime minister for paying his nannies so little.

The pair, who are considered special assistants under the Official Residences Act, have been hired for $15 to $20 per hour during the day and $11 to $13 at night.

“Surely the people looking after his children should be paid more than $11 an hour,” Malcolmson said. “I’m stunned to hear that figure and I am saddened.”

Malcolmson, too, acknowledged that the fact the employees are being paid out of the public purse seems to contradict Trudeau’s stated position on his own ability to cover his family’s child care costs.

“It does not jive with the very strong pronouncements he made in the election campaign that taxpayers should not be subsidizing wealthy families like his.”

Kate Purchase, Trudeau’s director of communications, said in a statement that the prime minister employs two household employees as “secondary caregivers” who also perform “other duties around the house.”

Purchase did not specify what those other duties entail, but said similar arrangements have existed for Trudeau’s predecessors.

“Like all families of prime ministers, a small number of staff provide assistance,” she said in an email.

Trudeau and his wife Sophie have three young children: Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien.

The Canadian Press first contacted the Liberals about Trudeau’s caregiver arrangements after one of the nannies was seen at Rideau Hall helping to manage the children prior to Trudeau’s swearing-in last month.

No information was provided, despite multiple requests made to the party.

One of the caregivers also accompanied Trudeau, his wife and two of the children on the prime minister’s recent trip to Paris for the climate change summit.

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