Here's our response to two common questions about making access to affordable, quality child care a reality in BC.
Wouldn't increasing child care subsidies solve BC's child care crisis?
Increasing BC child care subsidies will not make quality child care affordable.
Today child care subsidies are available to a small number of BC of families who meet low-income and other eligibility requirements. These subsidies do not cover the full cost of child care and parents still have to make up the difference. So, even families who qualify for a child care subsidy can’t afford quality child care.
While BC subsidies have not increased in over a decade, increases to subsidies lead to fee increases. Families on subsidies are no better off and everyone else is even worse off. This is especially true for families with infants and toddlers. Care for this age group is the most expensive to provide and infant/toddler programs are under the most pressure to raise fees.
Without a cap on parent fees, child care still won’t be affordable for the small minority of families who are eligible for subsidies or for the majority who are not eligible.
BC is the only province that allows subsidies to be used in unregulated care, with no health and safety standards or monitoring.
The subsidy system is complex, administratively costly and personally stigmatizing for individuals.
BC has relied on parent fee subsidies as the primary way of funding child care for decades. In BC, and everywhere else they have been tried, subsidies have failed to make quality, affordable child care broadly accessible. Subsidies are NOT the answer.
Why should higher income families pay $10aDay for child care?
Compared to a generation ago, young people today are struggling with lower and stagnant incomes, precarious work, higher student debt, and sky-high housing costs. So, affordable child care fees are crucial for all families who have, or hope to have, young children. Yet BC families pay among the highest child care fees in the country, with annual costs at 2 – 3 times the cost of university.
To address the glaring lack of affordability for young families, the $10aDay Child Care Plan recommends that BC families pay a maximum of $10aDay for full-time care, $7aDay for part-time care, and no fees for those earning less than $40,000 annually.
The evidence shows that charging all families a maximum of $10aDay is more effective and efficient than instituting a wide sliding scale with progressively higher fees for those with higher incomes.
The $10aDay Plan’s universal approach sets a cap on fees paid by all families. Consistent with Canada’s other public systems, the Plan proposes that the majority of families pay the same low (or, in many public services, no) user fees.
This is what happens when children start Grade 1. Families with higher incomes are not charged fees at the school door. The same is true for many free BC programs for young children and their parents, like Strong Start. They open their doors to all – knowing that through a progressive tax system, those who can afford to pay more do so at tax time.
Here is why the approach in the $10aDay Plan works best:
- It will ‘Ease the squeeze’ on family affordability in BC. This squeeze is being felt by an entire generation of young people. (as described by Generation Squeeze (gensqueeze.ca).
- It addresses particular needs of low income families in a way that ensures their children will be fully included in child care.
- It promotes high quality child care programs for all – rather than a ‘two tiered’ system. If families pay higher fees they often come to expect, or actually receive, higher quality services than those who can’t afford higher fees. “When we all use the same services, we can all do so with dignity and pride.”
- It is simple and efficient without the costly administration that income-testing requires
“… True equity is best achieved through progressive taxation. If higher income earners are paying their fair share of taxes, they will also be paying their fair share of program costs.”1
 Findlay, T. & Kiddell, C. 2017. Ten Reasons Why Universality Is Important In Public Services.