Sharon Gregson and Lynell Anderson: Here’s the roadmap to $10-a-day child care in B.C.
Opinion: The for-profit business model doesn’t work for child care. It is not the way to grow a system. The way forward is to invest taxpayers’ funds in new public and non-profit facilities that will be long-term community assets.
PHOTO BY JASON PAYNE /PNG files
It’s been 51 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada recommended a “National Day-Care Act.” Yet, despite decades of research and advocacy it’s taken a global pandemic for everyone to recognize that access to high-quality, affordable child care is essential for families and the economy. Federal Budget 2021 reflects broad support for publicly funded child care and — finally — includes the increased, sustained funding required to make it a reality.
Federal child-care funding is particularly important in B.C. because our own provincial budget fell far short of the B.C. government’s recent election commitments. Families, early childhood educators, communities and employers had every reason to expect rapid progress on child care in B.C. Budget 2021 because, in the October 2020 election, the B.C. NDP promised $1.5 billion in new child-care funding over three years. And they promised to use these funds in ways that advance the popular, evidence-based $10aDay Child Care Plan. It was so disappointing to learn that B.C.’s budget committed only an additional $233 million over the next three years, just 16 per cent of what was promised.
But all is not lost. With $30 billion over five years in federal funds committed by Ottawa, B.C. must immediately get to the negotiating table to access its share and close the gap left by the provincial budget.
B.C. now has the opportunity to build on the measurable progress that was achieved from 2018 to 2020 by focusing on and expanding the biggest success to date — the popular $10aDay Prototype sites that, according to the independent evaluator, “improve families’ quality of life by 98 per cent.” Parents fortunate enough to have children enrolled in one of the current 50 prototype programs in the province report that it is “life-changing.”Read more
Summary of priorities for BC’s negotiations with the federal government regarding significant new child care funding as committed in Federal Budget 2021
The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC strongly recommend an evidence-based approach that explicitly rejects fragmented, one-off, market-based initiatives, replacing them with system building strategies that ensure public funds serve the public good and build public assets. This approach is consistent with the accountability requirements incorporated in Federal Budget 2021 and detailed in the RoadMap for $10aDay child care in BC.
BC requires two parallel paths for system-building, both of which will receive equitable funding. The first path welcomes in current providers who want to participate in the new, publicly-managed $10aDay system. They will be funded through Partnership Agreements with built-in accountability requirements for parent fees, ECE compensation and full inclusion of BC’s children and families in all their diversities.
The second path outlines the process for creating new $10aDay programs that are, as much as possible, publicly delivered. Given that there are currently licensed spaces for only 20 per cent of BC children this ensures that, over time, a significant majority of child care facilities and programs will be publicly owned, managed and/or delivered - all key elements of effective child care systems
To achieve these two parallel paths, the BC government must expedite the transfer of child care to the Ministry of Education, as they have system building experience and the tools required to build a new public system.
We also recommend that the BC government confirm the following priorities in their negotiations with the federal government:
- All new child care spaces supported with public funds will be in the non-profit or public sectors. An immediate end to the ineffective and reactive New Spaces Fund grant program, replacing it with a capital budget and plan for expansion of licensed child care programs province-wide, including public infrastructure projects and the promised modular program.
- The expedited licensing of classrooms, through a specific protocol, without undermining quality, to support the rapid expansion of school-age child care programs in schools - spaces already designed for young learners.
- For current programs, a planned transition to $10aDay child care in every BC community with operating funds (using an equitable, transparent funding formula) and quarterly, prioritized expansion targets. The transition starts with programs located in publicly and non-profit owned facilities, where taxpayers will not assume the mortgage costs of privately-owned assets.
- A competitive provincial ECE wage grid and recruitment program where qualified ECEs earn a minimum of $26/hour (one-year college certificate) and $29/hour (two-year college diploma).
- Significantly increased access to public post-secondary ECE programs across BC:
- Rapid approval of and funding support for new early childhood education programs in public post-secondary institutions
- Rapid expansion of and funding support for on-line, part time, distance education and work/study offerings.
- Free tuition and/or student-debt relief for students completing ECE programs.
We put these recommendations forward in full support of the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to design, develop, and deliver early care and learning services that meet their needs. We support the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and acknowledge that Indigenous communities have and may evolve their services in directions other than those outlined in the Roadmap, creating models to learn from and strive for.
We continue to call on Canada and BC to honour their obligations to consult with Indigenous Peoples as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework. Any changes to the delivery of Indigenous early childhood education must respect the obligations stated in Bill 41– 2019: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act — and be undertaken with Indigenous leadership and governing bodies. And, governments must ensure that Indigenous Peoples have the resources required to develop and deliver early care and learning services.
For more details on CCCABC recommendations, please see the Roadmap for Child Care in BC
April 20, 2021 For Immediate release:
Today’s BC budget has thrown cold water on the good childcare news we heard yesterday from the federal government.
While continuing to highlight that child care is essential to BC’s economic recovery, BC Budget 2021 offers only a minimal expansion of $10aDay child care sites, a wage increase for Early Childhood Educators without links to a provincial wage grid, and more spaces created through an ineffective granting program rather than a dedicated capital budget. Finance Minister Robinson’s first budget does not deliver the system BC families and educators were promised in the recent election.
“BC’s government must now improve on its lackluster 2021 Budget by using new federal funds and the Roadmap we’ve laid out for them in order to deliver on their election commitments, in alignment with the popular $10aDay Plan.” said Sharon Gregson, $10aDay spokesperson.
In the recent 2020 election Premier John Horgan committed to $250M of new spending on child care operating funds each year, along with a capital program. “With or without federal support this is the minimum we expect in order to continue building BC’s child care system.” says Lynell Anderson CPA CGA and family policy researcher. “Instead we see the province commit to only $233 million in total new funding over 3 years” she added.
“While this budget has a nod to election commitments the progress is so minimal it does not meet the needs of families or educators as they try to recover from the pandemic.” said Emily Gawlick, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Educators of BC.
A quality affordable childcare system is exactly what Canada’s economy and Canadian families need right now – including here in BC. It is entirely appropriate that the federal government is stepping up in a substantive and sustained way to support child care because federal finances also benefit when more parents are able to work, pay taxes and spend $$ in their local economy. But, BC shouldn’t wait for federal funds to arrive before making more significant improvements to child care in our province.
The social and economic returns on high quality, affordable child care for all who choose it have been well established in BC, Canada and internationally. The lessons learned during the pandemic make the need for action more urgent.
While the BC government has achieved measurable progress on child care since 2018, parent fees are still too high, ECE wages are too low, and there are only enough licensed spaces for 20% of young children.
Accelerating public investment in the $10aDay Child Care Plan is essential if BC is to forge a just economic recovery.
To achieve the BC government's 2020 election commitments, Budget 2021 must include significant additional operating funding and a new capital budget for child care, along with a plan to bring $10aDay child care to more families, implement a competitive provincial ECE wage grid and build new publicly-owned facilities.
Even before the pandemic, BC needed to increase child care operating funding by at last $200 million annually in order to achieve universal child care by 2028, as committed.
Thank you to everyone who celebrated IWD with a $10aDay Child Care Advocacy Celebration!
Here's a wonderful graphic representation of our event - the success and the work ahead.
Good news! Thanks to action by $10aDay supporters the stars are aligned for significant child care change in British Columbia.
The recent provincial election delivered a majority to the party that made the strongest child care commitments. The new NDP government has given the returning Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen, clear expectations in her Mandate Letter. The good news is that her directives are aligned with the $10aDay Plan.
And, it appears that the province will have federal support to deliver the $10aDay Plan in BC. In her recent fiscal update, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the federal government will embark on developing a "Canada-wide early learning and child care system" and that Budget 2021 will provide a plan to “provide affordable, accessible and high-quality child care from ocean to ocean to ocean.”
We have specific recommendations on how BC’s government should begin to implement its commitments to have the greatest benefit for children, families, and educators in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, given it’s now confirmed that child care is moving into the broader learning environment it’s essential that the Minister for Child Care and the Minister of Education collaborate to:
- Bring $10aDay child care to more BC families;
- Deliver school-age child care in schools using classrooms already designed for young learners;
- Implement the provincial ECE wage grid starting at $26 per hour;
- Create more licensed child care programs in publicly owned space.
The negative impacts COVID-19 has had on women’s participation in the work-force make these investments vital for families and BC’s economic and social recovery.
BC absolutely can have a quality affordable system of child care programs where educators earn decent wages – all we need is for governments to deliver on their commitments.
Thanks for your continued support – we must keep up the pressure to ensure change happens!
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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