by: Brendan Kergin
The City of Kamloops has joined with dozens of other B.C. municipal governments in supporting the $10aDay Child Care Plan to help make child care more affordable and accessible across the province.
Council voted to write a letter of support for the plan after Sharon Gregson, the plan's spokesperson, made a presentation to council. As part of the presentation, Gregson told council 55 municipalities in B.C. had signed on, the vote makes Kamloops 56.
"The system has been left to whither in the marketplace when there really should be public investment for building a public system, which is what the $10-a-day plan is," she says.
While she's garnered support from municipalities, school districts and other organizations, like the Union of B.C. Municipalities, Gregson's target is the provincial and federal governments. When she's made presentations to local levels of government she says there's been little resistance to the plan. However, the plan requires funding from upper levels of government; she's hoping the support from municipalities will help.
"The goal is that all families will eventually have care at no more than $10-a-day," she says. "It's going to take time, unfortunately, because the crisis was allowed to get so bad."
"We've seen a $1 billion commitment over three years, we have to make sure that that continues to ramp up."
B.C.'s child-care sector is facing a variety of pressures, she says, with too few spaces, underpaid staff, unlicensed operators, price gouging and, as already noted, affordability issues.
"There are only enough child care spaces for about 20 per cent of children, early childhood educators earn below a living wage and fees are sky high," she points out. "That kind of thing doesn't get changed overnight."
A recent pilot project from the province means some parents, including some in Kamloops, are paying $10. Gregson says these families "feel like they won the lottery." She's hoping that pilot project will expand as people start thinking about child care differently.
"When we think about child care, we need to think about it the way we do elementary schools," she says. "We want teachers in kindergarten classrooms to be well-paid. We want to have well-resourced classrooms and we want all families to have access to good education for their kids."
"We need to start thinking about early childhood education and child care the same way."