Child care, housing top of mind for parents ahead of budget
· CBC News · Posted: Feb 12, 2020
The B.C. government will table the budget on Feb. 18, 2020
Katie Barthel, a mother of two from Surrey, is an advocate for $10-a-day daycare in B.C. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)
There's a short window during Katie Barthel's lunch break when she's able sneak away from work to discuss the upcoming budget.
Barthel — who lives in South Surrey with her husband and two daughters, aged four and eight, and sits on the board of directors for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. — says a $10 per day child-care system would be a major help to families like hers where both parents work full time.
"It would help us balance our lifestyle and be able to do more things as a family, save for our children's education or retirement," she said.
"It could also help us pay for the increasingly difficult housing market in B.C."
Barthel says her neighbourhood has seen explosive population growth since her children were born, so it's been a challenge for her friends and neighbours to find child-care spaces.
The B.C. government says it is working with schools to create more spaces, but Adrienne Montani with the advocacy group, First Call, says many low income families still can't afford child care.
"Those who are lucky enough to get a spot are often stretching way beyond their budget or they're not going back to work," she said.
"That's both single families and parents in couple families."
Pilot project for $10 daycare extended to April 2021
Victoria News AARON GUILLEN
The 80 Victoria families benefiting from the $10 a day daycare pilot program will be receiving daycare at that same price until April 2021.
Lexie Biegun says she recently found out that the provincial government had renewed the project for Lexie’s Little Bears’ Child Care Inc., one of two sites in Greater Victoria taking part in the prototype stage of universal affordable child care for Canadians.
The pilot project offers childcare for $200 per month.
“It’s such a cliche, but it’s like winning the lottery,” said Biegun, the owner of the daycare. “The families have been over the moon with this pilot project. Everyone wants a piece of it.”
It just makes sense!
On November 8, 2019, BC’s Minister of Education hosted a very significant Early Learning Summit. The Summit brought together school district leaders, teachers, and representatives from child care organizations from across BC to hear about the current research and evidence on the social and financial benefits of investing in early learning, discuss school-age child care, and listen to school district/community stories.Read more
B.C. NDP government is still a long way from meeting its promise of universal $10-a-day child care
Life in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland is expensive. The high cost of housing is widely known, but another outsized bill is the cost of child care, which ranks among the highest in the country.
The provincial NDP eked into government in 2017, promising to make life more affordable. Among the main pillars of its platform was $10-a-day child care.
The $10-a-day banner is a mythic and unrealized figure in most of Canada. It’s based on Quebec’s long-standing child-care program, which is cheap for parents, but heavily subsidized by taxpayers.
While the BC NDP’s platform did promise to “bring in” $10-a-day care, the party was cautious about timing. It wasn’t promised immediately, or for every child – there simply wasn’t room in the budget for that much new spending, that quickly. The initial focus was to be on low-income families, and kids under the age of 2. The party also said it had no intention of blowing up the existing patchwork of care, from licensed family homes to other operators.
In power, the minority NDP government has been cautious. It can claim to have made progress on increasing access to low-cost child care, but the results so far illustrate the challenges of making a big difference without spending big amounts of money.Read more
BC’s Childcare Investments Are Commendable. Now It’s Time to Double Down
Taking stock of the government’s efforts, and what’s still needed.
The system detailed in the $10aDay Plan serves children well with high-quality early care and learning opportunities, provides parents with the services they need and ensures respect for educators. It’s also good for the economy as more parents, especially mothers, are able to fully participate in the workforce.To date, there have been significant new Indigenous childcare investments that respect Indigenous leadership. Government has also implemented five key public policy changes that will help B.C. achieve its goals and leave a lasting legacy.
1. $10aDay prototype sites: 53 childcare programs across B.C. where families are already paying no more than $10 a day.
2. Fee reduction initiative: An across-the-board reduction of fees for all families participating in full-day licensed childcare programs.
3. Wage enhancements and workforce investments for early childhood educators.
4. Capital expansion of licensed spaces that prioritize new spaces with public partners, like school districts.
5. A minister dedicated to leading the work on childcare.Read more
The BC government is committed to creating 24,000 new licensed child care spaces by 2021. Consistent with $10aDay Plan recommendations, government is encouraging partnerships with public partners (school districts, municipalities) to help achieve this goal. However, government continues to rely on two expensive, risky, and unaccountable policies implemented by the previous government.
First, current capital expansion relies on inviting applications from others (non-profit, for-profit, and public sector organizations) to independently create new spaces. This reactive approach does not allow government to achieve economies of scale or cost effective investments in public infrastructure, nor does it ensure that spaces are created and maintained where the need is greatest. Even more worrisome, BC is the only province in Canada providing significant capital funds to create new child care facilities owned by for-profit businesses. Significant public funds are going into the acquisition of private assets rather than into publicly planned, owned and operated facilities. These approaches undermine government’s commitment to universal child care. The international evidence is clear. In countries with universal access to child care, the majority of services are publicly funded and delivered .Read more
COLUMN: Good business key to a great community: The Chamber
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt shares her thoughts on 2019
"After housing, child care is the largest expense for working families. The Chamber applauded the provincial government for investing in 22,000 licensed child care spaces in the province. The Chamber has called on the province to deliver universal child care to ensure working parents can fully participate in the labour market. Again, we were happy when the province announced a pilot program to test $10-per-day child care at 50 sites.
Province adds 260 more childcare spaces in Greater Victoria
144 spaces will be located at elementary schools
The provincial government will add 260 more childcare spaces in the Capital Region, ranging from daycare to after school care.
Of the spaces, 144 will be located at three elementary schools: Braefoot Elementary, Lampson Elementary and Oaklands Elementary. The other 116 will be at the Oasis Day Care, Little Wild early Learning and Maple Tree Children’s Centre.
“I’m proud to be part of a government that is investing in child care spaces on school grounds so parents can access high-quality child care they can rely upon in one convenient location,” said BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. “Our government and school districts are working together, so children in early childhood education programs can ease into the school environment and feel familiar and comfortable when they transition into kindergarten.”
Of these spots, Fleming promised some will be part of the $10 per day childcare pilot, which the province hopes to extend beyond March 2021. Exact numbers of how many spots would be within this pilot were not available. Fleming did add, however, that more spaces are also coming down the line.