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Canada’s new PM criticized for using taxpayer-funded nannies

December 3, 2015

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is being criticized by opposition parties for using taxpayer money to pay for two nannies who help to care for his three young children.

During the recent election, Trudeau criticized the former Conservative government for a proposed universal child care benefit that would have applied to Canada’s wealthiest families, including his own.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said Trudeau ought to be paying his own child care bills. Trudeau makes more than $300,000 Canadian (US$234,000) a year.

Leftist New Democrat leader Thomas Mulair said Wednesday his party is not against Trudeau receiving help, but he noted that Trudeau has said rich families like his don’t need it.

Kate Purchase, a spokeswoman for Trudeau, said taxpayers will continue to fund the two nannies, and they will be named as part of the household staff as per the Official Residences Act. Purchase said Trudeau will not expand the staff of the prime minister’s residence.

“He will be adapting the staff complement to suit his family’s requirements, given he is the proud father of three young children. It is an ongoing process and will be finalized in the coming days,” Purchase said in an email.

Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said 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 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.

Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said Trudeau will weather the issue relatively easily as there is still a “halo effect at work” after his recent election win, and many are sympathetic to the prime minister and his wife’s situation because he spends so much time away from his children.

Wiseman also said previous prime ministers have used taxpayer money to pay for child care and noted that Ambrose, the Conservative opposition leader, has a chef at her official residence at taxpayers’ expense.

“Should she be called out for that?” Wiseman said.

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