Reality Check: Progress on Child Care in BC, 2012-2020
In the early days of the current BC election campaign child care took centre stage when NDP leader John Horgan recommitted his party to fully implement the $10aDay Plan1 if elected on October 24. Public discussion and commentary followed in the media and from other parties. Questions were raised about the progress achieved on child care over the three years since the NDP and Green parties formed a minority government, in comparison to the progress achieved by the previous Liberal government leading up to the 2017 provincial election. The analysis in this report uses publicly-available data to clarify the record on child care in BC.
Over the last few decades, multiple studies2 confirm that the longstanding, market-based and privatized approach to child care in this province—and across much of Canada, outside of Quebec—results in care that is largely unaffordable (due to high parent fees), unavailable (with spaces for less than 20% of young children in BC) and of inconsistent quality (due to low educator wages and levels of education). The research also identifies consistent solutions: public policy with sufficient investment and accountability for substantially lowering and capping parent fees; supporting the early childhood educator profession, and; making inclusive, licensed spaces available for all who choose them.
The analysis presented here assesses progress on these building blocks of effective child care systems using three key evidence-based indicators:
- Parent fees, including measures to support lower-income families;
- Total number of licensed spaces and per cent of young children with access to a licensed space, and;
- Early childhood educator (ECE) wages3.
Most of the data (see Table 1) is sourced from annual performance reporting published by the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).Read more
BC Election 2020
For 40+ years we have called on all political parties to commit to building a quality affordable child care system for children and families, a system where educators receive a decent wage. Now, for the first time in BC history, all 3 major parties have made substantial child care promises in their 2020 provincial election platforms.
This is a hard won and momentous victory for generations of families & educators who’ve advocated for decades for quality affordable child care. The election promises are a remarkable indication of our collective success at advancing systems change, as all parties, whether they have previously supported government investments in child care or not, now recognize the popularity of the $10aDay Plan to voters, the importance of child care to British Columbians and the impact of child care on BC’s economy.
In previous elections the BC NDP and more recently the BC Greens prioritized child care investments, and now the BC Liberals have too. This is a major shift! Our focus can move beyond calling on all parties to commit to child care to now holding whoever is elected accountable to deliver on $10aDay polices.
Here is our summary of each party’s current election platform, and their recent record, on child care affordability, the ECE workforce, child care spaces, financial commitments, and building a child care system. We also provide a brief analysis of each party.
For Immediate Release…A Busy Week for Child Care!
BC election called and child care the number one issue to be highlighted
It is extremely significant that in the first days of the provincial election Premier John Horgan has recommitted the NDP to the $10aDay Plan. Spokesperson, Sharon Gregson said, “government made significant progress for families and early childhood educators over the past 3 years – more progress in fact than in the 16 years leading up to the 2017 election.” $10aDay child care is life-changing for families and essential to BC’s economic and social recovery.
While John Horgan and the NDP have recommitted to the $10aDay Plan; which includes affordable fees for families, a starting wage of $26/hr for early childhood educators, and new spaces that are public assets, like schools – we have not yet seen a similar commitment from the BC Liberals.
Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said a Liberal government would introduce an affordable child-care plan with costs that would vary according to family resources. However, Family Policy researcher, Lynell Anderson CPA CGA confirms this income-testing subsidy approach has been part of the failed market-based system for decades. It results in higher parent fees, low ECE wages, and too few quality spaces.
While we were not privy to internal negotiations between the Greens and the NDP in 2017 we know from their platforms there were differences in their visions for child care. Since then, new Green leader Sonia Furstenau has shown she’s an advocate for early childhood education and has committed to child care as a public system but, has not yet committed to the $10aDay Plan.
Over the last 3 years child care fees have been reduced for 60,000 families and of those, 32,700 families are paying $10 a day or less. Early childhood educators have been receiving a wage top-up of $2 per hour, and funding for 20,000 new spaces has been confirmed. “This is a good start for families and the economy” says parent of two young children, Sara Langlois, “we need more progress on $10aDay not moving backwards to old ways of thinking about child care.”
Now, with a new federal commitment to Canada-wide investment in high quality accessible child care, this is the time for BC’s political leaders to commit to immediate and significant $10aDay expansion.
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On October 24, British Columbians go to the polls to elect a new provincial government. Those we elect will need a strong mandate to chart a bold and just future.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear to all that a quality, affordable child care system is central to this future – a future that meets the needs of children and families, values early childhood educators, supports Indigenous peoples, advances gender equity and a sustainable economy, and redresses the many inequities that exist in our society today.
That is why we are calling on all BC political parties and candidates to make a meaningful commitment to implement the $10aDay Child Care Plan across BC.
Over the last 3 years, BC made historic new investments in child care. As a result, families of 32,700 children are now paying $10aDay or less for their child care. But, as we knew from the start, building the child care system BC needs is a 10-year project that will require new annual investments and sound public policy.
Based on the progress achieved since 2018, we call on all parties to commit to the vision and principles of the $10aDay Plan. Immediate priorities are to:
- Move NOW to significantly expand $10aDay child care programs across BC
- Implement a wage grid for BC’s early childhood educators, starting at $26/hr
- Use public funds to build child care spaces that are public assets, like schools
Widespread public support for action on child care has never been greater. Candidates should know that access to $10aDay Child Care is the measure of success for BC families.
Ninety percent of British Columbians agree that provincial investments in a quality, affordable child care system are important. More than ¾ believe that government should move more quickly to achieve the goals of the $10aDay Plan.
Those who seek office should also know that business leaders and economists agree - investing in child care is essential to our social and economic recovery.
Over the next month, we will be providing you with election updates and resources.
Together, we can make sure that BC elects a government with a strong mandate for bold action on child care.
Register for a mail in ballot here: https://eregister.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/ovr/welcome.aspx#
Families are Desperate for School-Age Child Care
Dear Ministry of Children & Families,You are failing my family. I live in East Van. My daughter goes to XX Elementary. We have been on the one and only after school care waitlist that services this small school for a whole school year, and the waitlist has now been shut down due to COVID-19.We will essentially never get after school care for our daughter now.What I can tell you as an extremely highly educated Canadian woman who has researched other options now for a whole year, there is no other option that works for families. After school care is the one and only option that lets women work full time (which often means, lets women work period, as often part time is not an option).Regardless of income, privilege, language skills, Neighbourhood connections (I have all these), I am very close to having to give up my job because I can’t cover a couple of time slots in my elementary aged child’s day. Imagine the situation for those less privileged?
A Message from the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC)
and the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (CCCABC)
For over 40 years, our two organizations have advanced the development of a well-educated, fairly compensated, and highly respected early childhood educator (ECE) profession. We have always known that ECEs are essential to achieving a high quality, affordable child care system that meets the needs of BC families and communities.
Our broadly-supported research and advocacy over the last 10 years, as reflected in the evolving $10aDay Child Care Plan, created the conditions that made recent progress in BC possible, with much more to come.
The Next Step report, incorporating research, analysis and recommendations for a provincial ECE wage grid, is the latest example of our ongoing commitment to advancing your important work.
By 2007, the failure of BC’s (and much of Canada’s) longstanding market approach to child care was abundantly clear to us. Without public funding, parent fees were too high for most families, but too low to compensate ECEs fairly. The inextricable, problematic link between parent fees and ECE wages made expansion of quality child care difficult. As few could afford to access or work in child care, there were licensed spaces for less than 20 per cent of young children.
So, we began to develop concrete solutions. CCCABC detailed the estimated costs and benefits of a publicly-funded system. ECEBC initiated the $20/hour Wage Strategy based, in part, on the wages paid to ECEs working in BC’s StrongStart programs. These publicly-funded early learning programs are delivered through the Ministry of Education and provided at no cost to parents, who attend the programs with their children.
Our two organizations remain committed to working together to make the goal of a respected, well educated, and fairly compensated ECE profession a reality. Download the full document here...Read more
OPEN LETTER to The Honourable Chrystia Freeland,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
September 1, 2020
On behalf of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Finance. As Government prepares for the Throne Speech and your first Federal Budget, we are writing to highlight that it is imperative you prioritize and invest substantially in high quality, affordable child care.
This is particularly important for women, as they have been disproportionately impacted by the crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the social and economic costs associated with longstanding and intersecting structural inequities in Canada, and the importance of a feminist recovery.
The successes achieved to date in implementing the $10aDay Child Care Plan in BC demonstrates that significant federal/provincial/territorial child care investments, with accountability, will advance an inclusive, equitable, green and broadly-supported economic recovery Canada-wide.Read more
My husband and I put our lifetime savings to our “Canadian dream”, even instead of doing a full-on Catholic Church wedding in the Philippines. Our law firm said that the better the “score” the better the chances of getting the immigration papers approved. This is what Canada likes. What were these qualities that made our score high in the Skilled Workers Program?
- My husband and I are both well-seasoned nurses. I was 12 years Senior Orthopedic Nurse in specialized areas of hand surgery, pediatric, spine and sports surgery. My husband was a police-ambulance nurse and an emergency nurse in the biggest Trauma Center in the United Arab Region for 8 years in total.
- I passed my general IELTS with total band score 7.5
- We had 1 child then, my daughter Ysabelle, which also adds to the score
We applied mid-July 2013 and arrived as landed immigrants 8th July 2017 with $30,000+ pocket money, my daughter was 1 year and 5 months, and I was 5 months pregnant with our 2nd child. Full of rigor, hopes and dreams for the future of our family we embarked on our Canadian dream.
Of course, prior to coming here we mentally prepared ourselves: we would not have our most trusted nanny; and we wouldn’t be able to have our career as Nurses as we needed to do the necessary upgrading. We were ready to take on other roles outside medicine and delve into other opportunities, whatever it was to survive. What came as a surprise was not only the lengthy, confusing and monetary draining process of upgrading, but also extended waiting time for bridging, and most especially the very costly, very difficult to find, very long listed child care services in BC Canada. We thought we came prepared. No, we were in for a very rough ride!
$10aDay Child Care NOW
For British Columbia and Canada to forge a resilient and just future, building a quality, affordable child care system with fairly compensated early childhood educators must be a priority. Increasing the public investment in child care now will play a central role in building a sustainable economy - an economy that mitigates climate change, creates green jobs, supports Indigenous peoples on and off reserve, and undoes many inequities in our communities.
That is why, effective July 1st, we call on the BC government to begin moving all currently licensed child care programs to $10aDay child care sites. We call on the federal government to share in the costs of this move as part of a Canada-wide recovery plan. And, we call on both levels of government to prioritize and increase funding for Indigenous-led child care services.
During the COVID-19 pandemic it became abundantly obvious that child care is an essential service. This fact was clearly articulated by provincial and federal leaders including Dr. Bonnie Henry and Premier Horgan and is the basis for taking decisive action on child care in BC’s recovery plan. The pandemic laid bare two undeniable realities about child care.
First, thousands of families have recently lost their jobs and income. They are now facing more financial hardship than ever. To return to work, they need access to affordable child care. A sustainable economic recovery relies on families being able to regain their earning power, rebuild confidence in their future and spend money in their local economy. Access to affordable child care is essential for families to re-enter the labour force. They need access to quality, affordable programs that meet diverse needs, are culturally relevant, and offer non-traditional hours of care for shift/part-time workers.
Second, the pandemic served to highlight that BC needs a publicly-funded and publicly-managed system of child care. While public systems like schools were able to respond to the pandemic crisis with clear provincial policy and decision-making, child care services in BC had no reliable or coherent system of communication or coordination. Public funding is essential to make child care affordable and to compensate early childhood educators fairly. Public management is critical to ensure that the fragile, disconnected child care sector is supported to consistently deliver quality, affordable child care.
Even with spaces available for children of essential workers, families were too often unable to find or afford child care to meet their needs. And, while we all know that public schools will eventually reopen, many child care programs may not as they depend on the decisions made by individual operators who are in turn dependent on market forces.
While government can’t fix everything – it can move to $10aDay Child Care NOW – this will have a huge impact on the economic and social recovery of families and communities.
April 11, 2020
Dear friends and supporters:
Like you we were very relieved to hear BC’s Provincial Health Officer report on April 6 that, “Our percentage of new cases, as you can see, has been slowing, it’s been bending, and that’s really important.” It feels like good news that our collective efforts around physical distancing and hand-washing are seeing results. Together we are getting through these unusual and challenging times.
At the outset of the pandemic we shared our strong message to government that, as in other provinces, all child care programs should be closed to regular users with an immediate plan to ensure designated essential workers can access the child care spaces they require - spaces close to their home or work.
We called for:
- Suspending parent fees for essential workers using child care and for families who are taking the Provincial Health Officer’s advice to stay home with their child if they can, and
- Sustaining the wages of all early childhood educators
- Compensating programs appropriately for the loss of income
Since then, families enrolled in child care programs were extremely relieved to hear from government that in most cases they will not have to pay fees if they are not using their child care space – either because their program closed or because of concerns about the virus - and, that their space will be available when they are able to return to their program. This is as it should be.
However, government is using large financial incentives to encourage programs to remain open but the decision as to whether or not to stay open, work in or attend child care is still left with individual child care providers, educators and parents – rather than being a province-wide coordinated plan. This remains disappointing.
Tier 1 emergency workers with young children now have access to a provincial referral system for assistance with finding a licensed child care space – and emergency workers with school-age children can access free services, as schools remain open, through their local school district. Unfortunately, child care services delivered by community based providers are still required to charge parent fees. We understand both these systems will soon be available to Tier 2 workers.
While BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development has chosen not to manage child care during this pandemic to the level demonstrated in other provinces, we are very glad to know that, as we suggested, the substantial new public funding now available to child care operators cannot be used to generate profits in this crisis. Government guidelines clearly state any surplus funds are to be applied to helping families (by reducing fees, extending hours) and supporting staff wages, along with other health and safety measures.
An interesting result of the pandemic in British Columbia has been the universal recognition of child care as an essential service supporting the economy. We always knew it was! The ability of our public schools to respond quickly and consistently demonstrates yet again the importance of ensuring child care benefits from the same system-wide approach in the future. So, as we all start to think about what recovery for B.C. and Canada will look like post-COVID-19, it is clear that a quality affordable child care system is exactly the type of infrastructure investment that governments will need to make. We’ll be right there along the way advocating for effective public policy decisions.
Thank you for your ongoing support – and like you we’ll continue washing our hands and maintaining physical distance!
From Sharon and the $10aDay Team