All BC families have access to high quality, inclusive, flexible child care with fees capped at $10aDay, with professional wages, benefits, and healthy working conditions for educators – all within a system that upholds Indigenous rights and advances reconciliation.
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In 2011 – building on more than 40 years of advocacy – the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC worked together to create the first "Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning" to show the government of British Columbia both that a public system of high quality, universal child care was necessary, and how to go about building it.
Over the years the Plan has been updated and is now known as the $10aDay Plan, in reference to a core recommendation initiated at UBC that full-time child care cost no more than $10 per day, per child.
In response to the $10aDay Campaign and our amazing supporters – and based largely on our $10aDay Plan – in 2018 the BC Government committed to building a system of quality, affordable, universal child care, calling its own plan ChildCareBC, which included the rollout of a network of $10aDay programs.
The federal government then followed suit, providing historic levels of funding to provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples to achieve $10aDay child care across Canada, and the goals set out in the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.
Now that government is committed to the basic principles and goal of the $10aDay Plan, our mission is to make sure they follow-through.
Unlike schools, parks, hospitals, libraries and other core public services, prior to 2018 child care received very little public funding and was largely left up to the market. Decades of experience – across Canada and around the world – have shown the problems with market-based child care, including here in BC:
High fees – often more than a $1,000 per month for a full-time space.
Too few spaces – prior to 2018 there were licensed spaces for fewer than 20% of young children, with shift workers especially struggling to find care.
- Inadequate compensation –for Early Childhood Educators, forcing many to leave the field and programs to close.
As a result, too many families have had no choice but to use unregulated care that’s not monitored for health and safety, or even for meeting legal requirements — at times with tragic results. Parents are stressed and too many children are not experiencing quality care. Employers, communities and our economy are also negatively affected when families can't find affordable, high quality child care and mothers (mainly) are forced to delay their careers.
The solution to the failed market-based approach of the past is the $10aDay Plan → a publicly-funded, accountable child care system that is:
Affordable – $10 a day for full time care, $7 a day for part time care, and no cost for families with annual incomes under $45,000. This will make a real difference for all families and is the single biggest next step we can take to reduce poverty for families with young children.
Accessible – providing a licensed space for every child whose family wants or needs it, on a voluntary basis. All families – including those with extra support needs or with non-traditional hours/shift work – welcomed in a range of programs in licensed family homes and centres that reflect the diversity of BC families and communities.
- High-quality – the quality of the system depends on Early Childhood Educators, who must be well-educated, well-respected and fairly-compensated. All educators should be supported to obtain an ECE Diploma through accessible post-secondary education, including currently unlicensed caregivers who may then work in the regulated system if they choose. Over time, the workforce should transition towards a bachelor’s degree. A province-wide competitive ECE wage grid of at least $30-$40/hr (in 2023 $) is necessary, along with improved benefits and working conditions. Child care facilities should also be high-quality, safe and climate-friendly.
Over top all this sits government's obligation to uphold Indigenous rights and advance reconciliation, including via the BC Declaration Act Action Plan (e.g. action 4.19) and the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.
The research is clear. The quality of children’s early experiences MATTER. Good quality helps all children thrive. But, poor quality environments can do harm.
Today, too many young BC children do not have the opportunity to participate in high quality child care. Across the province more than 30% enter Kindergarten vulnerable in one or more developmental areas.
The $10aDay Plan offers a quality early care and learning experience for every child whose family wants or needs it. Children will benefit from programs that respect them for who they are today and help prepare them for who they will become tomorrow.
"For Canadian families, high-quality, affordable child care is more than a convenience—it's a necessity." (Federal Budget 2016)
Without access to affordable, quality child care, many parents have no option but to leave the workforce or use unregulated care. Although women typically sacrifice their careers and financial stability when child care is not available or affordable, this stress takes a toll on the whole family.
British Columbians understand the widespread challenges facing families with young children today. That’s why 66% think that government funding for child care should support most families, not just those who are poor.
And, whether in the paid labour force or not, all parents will have the option of enrolling in a full day or part time program that supports their child’s early care and learning.
With access to affordable, quality child care, more BC mothers will be able to enter or return to BC’s labour force.
They will be able to move from part-time or casual work to full time jobs.
The Plan will also provide new and better careers for Early Childhood Educators, who are overwhelmingly female, often racialized, and have been traditionally underpaid.
Women will be better able to support their families, put their skills and talents to work and fully participate in their communities. Their pay cheques will go further and many will move out of poverty.
The Plan will also provide particularly significant benefits to single mothers, helping many families to leave social assistance.
Under the Plan, Early Childhood Educators' wages and overall compensation will increase over time to reflect the importance of their work.* There will be a provincial wage grid to ensure fair and comparable wages across the province, recognizing education and experience. Early Childhood Educators will have more opportunities to improve their education with access to and funding support for Diploma and Bachelor of Early Childhood Education programs and professional development across BC. And, with greater public understanding of the significance of early care and learning, the work of Early Childhood Educators will be valued and respected - as it should be.
*see latest recommendations for an ECE wage grid here.
The Plan supports providers who want to move away from their often isolated situations to become part of local child care networks and a province-wide system. Those who choose to opt-in to the Plan will receive additional operating funds to lower parent fees, so they can focus on enhancing the quality of early care and learning programs for young children without having to worry about affordability for families. Additional investments in the workforce also benefit providers who opt-in to the Plan because they will be able to recruit and retain enough well-qualified Early Childhood Educators to fully utilize their existing licensed capacity. The increased and stable public funding allows providers to better support children and families in their communities with high quality programming.
Several economists have studied the economic benefits of the $10aDay Plan. All of the studies used well-established research and BC data to show that the benefits of making high quality child care broadly available and affordable outweigh the costs.
Two studies, led by economists Iglika Ivanova (2015) and Robert Fairholm (2017), focus on the economic benefits in the near-term, and in particular the well-established link between affordable child care and mothers’ labour force participation.
On full implementation, Fairholm projected that the $10aDay Child Care Plan would add $5.8 billion to GDP, create 69,000 jobs across BC and raise enough government revenues to cover the estimated $1.5 billion incremental annual cost. The Plan would also provide higher economic returns than typical government investments, even in the short term. Clearly we don’t have to choose between a strong economy and making BC more affordable for families. By implementing the $10aDay Plan, we'll have both.
Almost 40% of families report that a parent had to remain away from work following the end of parental leave because child care was unavailable. This finding reinforces the concerns raised by BC employers about retaining skilled, experienced mothers in the workforce.
Our Plan addresses this reality, and the related work-life conflict which costs BC employers $600 million each year due to:
- higher absenteeism
- greater turnover
- lower productivity
The Plan also reduces the pressure on wages alone to cover child care costs. With government investments in Child Care BC the 2019 living wage in Metro Vancouver dropped from $20.91 an hour to $19.50 an hour, and similar reductions have been calculated in other BC communities.
Employers across BC support public investment in child care. In rating the Fiscal Prudence of BC Budget 2018 a B+, for example, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade noted that:
A centerpiece of Budget 2018-19 is an investment of $1 billion over three years for Child Care BC. Benefits of up to $1,250 per month per child will help to improve the Greater Vancouver region's ability to attract human capital. This has been an area of concern to our Members, and thus we applaud this.
Communities that don’t work for families with young children don’t work for anyone. As Cranbrook’s City Council says “The lack of child care …means that people are turning away local jobs and not moving here, or they are having to leave the area, which is an economic barrier for business and services in our community.”
The Plan will build a neighbourhood network of child care programs that connect families and children to each other and to their neighbourhoods. This means a stronger, healthier, and safer community for all.
The 2022 Roadmap to $10aDay Child Care in BC is the most recent version of the $10aDay Plan, organized below into downloadable sections for convenience (summary | full pdf). On some topics you'll find more up-to-date information on our Resources page.