BC Liberal Government Under-Spending on Child Care

Despite Growing Child Care Crisis, BC Liberal Government Underspends Child Care Budget by $100 million

The BC government repeatedly responds to concerns about the growing child care crisis by claiming ‘we can’t afford to do more’. Yet, their own public reports show that they haven’t even spent the minimal funds they committed to child care over the last four years. Child care underspending totals almost $100 million, with $48 million underspent last year alone.

“This is shocking” states Sharon Gregson, spokesperson for the $10aDay Child Care Plan. “BC’s child care budget is already far below international standards. It’s outrageous to know that our government didn’t make sure that every dollar promised to child care was spent. $100 million could have made a real difference for BC families.” 

The analysis of BC’s public reporting was carried out by Lynell Anderson, CPA, CGA. “Underspending of the child care budget has grown each year since 2013” explains Anderson. “Despite inflation, the growing child population, and an increase in the budget allocation for child care, the BC government reports that actual spending was the same in 2016 as in 2013.”

With an average of $25 million underspent annually, the BC Liberals Budget 2017 announcement of a $20 million increase for child care in 2017/18 lacks credibility. And, they propose to create 8,000 new spaces over the next three years, yet the population is projected to increase by 18,000 children. 

Clearly, the child care crisis will continue to grow under the plan put forward by the BC Liberals in their 2017 Budget. Their approach stands in stark contrast to the child care election platforms put forward by the BC NDP, who've committed to the popular $10aDay Plan, and the BC Green Party, both of whom have made substantive commitments to solving the child care crisis in BC.

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Time for show and tell?

You know what the latest provincial budget did for my family? For all intents and purposes: nothing. It makes me feel this government is out of touch with the realities and struggles families are facing.

You see, my husband and I are a fairly new parents – our little guy just started into child care last March. So when our care provider handed us our 2016 tax receipt, it was a shock.



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IWD = Child Care Challenge to all BC Political Parties

For Immediate Release

March 8th, IWD, is the final day of a Week of Action for $10aDay Child Care. Thousands of women and families across BC have added to the unstoppable momentum for the $10aDay Child Care Plan by signing petitions, writing letters, attending rallies, organizing stroller brigades, participating in seminars and tweeting, posting and instagramming their support.

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10 Reasons Why BC Can Afford $10aDay Child Care


BC Budget 2017 does nothing to solve the chaos that BC families face every day as they try to find and afford child care. There is a concrete solution – the $10aDay Child Care Plan – which is supported by communities, school boards, businesses and individuals across the province.

The cost of the $10aDay Plan will be phased-in over time, only reaching the total additional cost of $1.5 billion a year when it is fully implemented in 7 to 10 years. BC Budget 2017 makes it clear there are various options for funding the up-front costs required to kick-start the Plan –including projected surpluses.

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Missing in Action on Quality, Affordable Child Care

There is a massive affordability crisis for BC families that need child care. Fees can run upwards of $10,000 per year—higher than university tuition—and regulated spaces are available for only 27 per cent of BC children under age five. There’s no question that the status quo—a fragmented patchwork of child care programs with exorbitant prices, inadequate spaces and inconsistent quality—fails to meet the needs of BC families.

Unfortunately, the BC Budget has little to offer parents of young children. The Budget provides additional funding to fund another 2,000 child care spaces on top of the 13,000 spaces over 6 years announced in 2013 with the Early Years Strategy. While any increase is an improvement, 2,000 additional new spaces will not come close to meeting the needs of BC families.

Even if all new spaces opened are for children newborn to age five, the 2,000 new spaces would accommodate less than half a per cent of the children in that age group (fewer, if the number of children in BC grows). Under the government’s current Early Years Strategy, with today’s small improvement, BC would have regulated spaces for fewer than one-third of all children younger than five, far short of where Quebec is now, and there are no plans to make these spaces affordable.

The maximum subsidy for children from newborn to five years has been frozen since 2005. Income thresholds below which parents qualify for subsidies have not increased since 2005 either. Yet child care fees have increased two to three times faster than general inflation for the past decade. Families are left with thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs even if they receive the maximum subsidy.

It is disappointing to see the BC government continues to ignore the large body of international and Canadian evidence demonstrates that affordable, high-quality child care and early education programs yield large social and economic benefits. We remain laggards by international standards, investing far less than what is required to ensure that all children can thrive. Small enhancements to the status quo like the 2,000 spaces announced today are not cutting it. We need a shift in priorities.

BC Budget 2017 was the perfect opportunity to provide the investment needed to establish the widely endorsed $10-a-Day Child Care Plan.  Such investment would have had ripple effects across the provincial economy: taking some pressure off young working families, freeing resources to pay off their student and mortgage debt; providing a good start for all BC children; allowing more mothers to participate in the workforce, increasing tax revenues almost immediately; and creating new jobs. What a wasted opportunity.

- See more at: http://www.policynote.ca/bcbudget2017/#sthash.JEHXIhqx.dpuf

More from Iglika Ivanova and Alex Hemingway at http://www.policynote.ca/bcbudget2017/

Lily's Story

I started thinking about child care, on a personal level, when I was pregnant. My son is now 6. I thought that the daycare system was difficult when he was younger, but after school care is really a whole other thing.

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Good News – The Child Care Crisis in BC Can Be Fixed - $10aDay Child Care Plan is Great for Families and BC’s Economy

New Economic Study Highlights Net Benefits of Proposed $10aDay Child Care Plan for Governments and Employers, even in the Short Term.


Renowned private-sector economist Robert Fairholm led this in-depth analysis of the economic effects of implementing the $10aDay Plan -- confirming that it will generate sufficient government revenues to pay for the government spending required to build and operate the system. 

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Jen's Story

I put my son on a waitlist for care when I was seven weeks pregnant.

When the year of mat leave was over and I had to go back to work, my husband and I looked at each other and said “we need something to change.”

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Why Isn't Child Care Affordable?

Why isn’t child care affordable for all Canadians yet?

For nearly five decades, no politician outside of Quebec has comprehensively addressed the matter

Written by Mab Oloman

Published in THIS Magazine, November 3, 2016

Mab Oloman’s interest in child care emerged when she became a parent in 1976. Mab thought it would all be fixed by the time she became a granny, but today the child care crisis is even more desperate.

As I sat down to write this, I found myself thinking about the many aspects of child care that matter to me—from my abhorrence of the trend to “schoolify” very young children to my deep belief that child care should be an affordable not-for-profit publicly supported service. But my overall frustration is that for nearly five decades, politicians of all stripes have used child care to gain political points during both federal and provincial election campaigns but so far none of our governments, except Quebec, have been brave enough to comprehensively address the matter.

Since 1970, when the Royal Commission on the Status of Women proposed a national day-care act, it has been a two-steps-forward, one-step-back dance. On International Women’s Day in 1986 Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government released the “Report of the Task Force on Child Care.” That report, initiated by the previous Liberal government, called for “a universal system of child care, co-funded by federal and provincial governments.” It recommended a system of nonprofit services, designed and managed by the provinces, guided by national standards. The system would be affordable and enhanced through a gradual increase in supply until 2001 when it would serve all children

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Ten bucks a day for child care is enormously appealing

Les Leyne: Universality sticking point for child care

OCTOBER 25, 2016

Ten bucks a day for child care is an enormously appealing proposition for thousands of B.C. families now paying 10 times that or more for it.

But making it available to the wealthy as well as low-income earners might be one of the sticking points for the major election campaign statement NDP Leader John Horgan made last week.

He served notice the Opposition will be campaigning for a $10-a-day child-care program that is universally available. It’s the most definitive position yet on a topic that the NDP has taken varying positions on over the years. In fact, it’s the most definitive statement Horgan has made as leader in terms of what the party will be advancing as the election campaign begins to take shape.

The idea goes back to a concept that was just taking shape in the final days of the last NDP government, in 2001. Former premier Ujjal Dosanjh pitched a $14-a-day program that would have more than doubled the existing subsidy budget, to $400 million a year, with a federal contribution folded in. It didn’t swing the subsequent election results. The NDP were routed. The B.C. Liberals cancelled the plan in short order, keying on the waste of money represented by universality.

Horgan said last week the 15 years of Liberal government since then have created a child-care crisis. Parents are paying some of the highest fees in the country and child care is the second-highest cost to families, after housing. Apart from the obvious popularity in the young-families demographic, he cited the economic impact as another selling point.

“Lack of affordable quality child care prevents parents from participating in the labour force.” Various studies cite the high costs as a drag on the economy.

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