How to Reduce Parent Fees by an Average of 50% by December 2022
In July 2021 BC signed a $3.2 billion Bilateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government. In the Agreement the province promises to reduce average parent fees by 50% for regulated and funded child care for children aged 0-5 years. The BC government states that this will result in average parent fees of $21/day by December 2022.
The BC government has also committed to bring fees down to an average of $10aDay by March 31, 2026 – so it is essential that the approach used to meet the 50% reduction helps move child care towards the $10aDay system.
As outlined in the Bilateral Agreement, BC will use the existing Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI) to achieve these goals. Using this existing funding program should enable families in participating programs to receive an equitable reduction in their fees in a timely way and enable providers to use a funding source they are familiar with.
This interim step provides a critical opportunity for the government to introduce increased accountability measures that help providers move towards a public system. And, to begin to close the gap between current fees and $10aDay, the approach used should ensure that taxpayer funds are not used for private gain.
We recommend that BC begin to reduce fees by 50% by providing existing licensed child care programs that have participated in and met accountability requirements for the Child Care Operating Fund (CCOF), Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative and Wage Enhancement program for at least 2 years with increased CCFRI funding, if they agree to:
- Cap parent fees at current levels (with annual cost of living increases provided through CCOF/CCFRI)
- At a minimum, pay qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) the legal minimum wage, (currently $15.20/hour) plus the Wage Enhancement ($2/hour, increasing to $4/hour by April 2022).
- Publicly post parent fees and ECE wages online and provide up-to-date fee and wage information to Child Care Resource & Referral (CCRR) centres.
- Submit financial records to government for full transparency
- Commit to no ‘extra fees’ for optional, exclusionary services
- Include children with extra support needs (with funding and support from Supported Child Development)
- Welcome all families and children including families receiving the Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB)
- Have no significant unresolved Health Department Licensing citations
Based on the Timelines in the Bilateral Agreement, the BC government should implement the 50% fee reduction in two phases:
Phase 1 (Now-December 2022)
Beginning no later than April 1 2022, government should increase funding through CCFRI to eligible programs sufficient to bring fees down by an average of 50%.
Government should also provide this increased level of CCFRI to new eligible programs that open during Phase 1 with fees set within provincial government guidelines .
For programs that chose not to participate in the 50% reduction program, government should continue to provide current levels of operating funds and families in these programs should remain eligible for ACCB.
Phase 2 (January 2023 - April 2026)
Programs should continue to receive the funds they received during Phase 1 until they transition into a $10aDay programs, with a cap on fees offset by public funding to cover cost-of-living increases in annual operating costs.
For programs that chose not to participate in the 50% reduction program or transition to $10aDay, government should continue to provide current levels of operating funds and families in these programs should remain eligible for ACCB.
 As recommended in the $10aDay Roadmap, programs that open without public capital funds and/or outside of a community plan, after a provincially established cut-off date, would not be guaranteed access to new operating funds.