Groups calling for $10/day child care

Ministry says plan is "not feasible"

  • Apr. 13, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

Two groups of advocates for children in B.C. have developed a plan to help ease the financial burden of child care costs. The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC are asking government to reduce fees to $10 a day in licensed infant and toddler programs, and to offer free day care for families earning less than $40,000.

The groups say it would be a better investment than the 2015 tax benefit for families, which will cost about $146 million.

“It’s not the same as it was years ago,” said Charlene Gray, executive co-ordinator of the Comox Valley Children’s Day Care Society who serves on an advisory committee. “It’s very hard for people who work minimum-wage jobs, or even higher. They work to feed their kids. It’s the working middle class that gets hit quite hard.”

Next to a mortgage, she said child care is the second highest payment for parents in B.C.

Infant and toddler care is more expensive due to a higher educator-to-child ratio than centres for three- to five-year-olds, she added. Costs range from $780 to $2,000-plus per month.

As opposed to a ‘user fee’ system, the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care & Learning calls for new public money for infant and toddler programs. Gray said a new system would reap more revenue from taxes. A greater number of parents would be able to enter the workforce because they could access quality child care. It would also replace the current subsidy structure and funding, which she says does not meet the needs of families in B.C.

“It is a place to start,” Gray said. “It would be affordable and it would address a key crisis area. It would have a huge impact on families and be a model moving forward.”

Government says it recognizes the challenges faced by parents struggling to balance family life while pursuing work and training opportunities.

“Unfortunately, implementing universal child care in B.C. – at an estimated cost of approximately $1.5 billion per year – is simply not feasible in our current economic climate,” said the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) in an emailed statement – the only correspondence the Ministry offered the Record on the subject.

Gray notes that Quebec has a system that pays for itself. That province saw an estimated 3.8 per cent increase in women’s employment in 2008, credited to low-fee child care.

“For every dollar invested in their child care system, their province recovered $1.05 – not to mention the 44 cents per dollar Ottawa receives. Quality child care decreases child and family poverty rates, and children’s vulnerability rates entering kindergarten.”

Recent data indicates that 33 per cent of B.C. children enter kindergarten vulnerable in one or more developmental areas, up from 29 per cent over the last five years. Gray estimates the figure is more than 23 per cent in the Comox Valley.

“It is alarming,” she said. “It seems like we’re waiting until then to go ‘now what?’ when we know the child’s development before five is the most critical years.”

On a daily basis, Gray fields several calls from people seeking care for children less than three years, which is the minimum age at the society.

“It costs more for child care from 18 months to five than it does for a university education.”

Government says child care subsidies are helping about 43,000 children this year, but Gray notes the subsidies are only available for those with low incomes. For instance, the maximum allowed for a three-year-old is $550 for full-time care.

“Before the Harper government came in there was a national child care plan on the table but it was one of the first things scrapped,” said Gray, who recently presented the plan to Courtenay council. Comox council has endorsed it. “Municipalities on their own can’t solve the problem but they certainly can support and lobby governments. We have over two million supporters in B.C. Everybody knows someone who depends on child care.”

The MCFD’s Early Years Strategy is designed to provide choice and support for parents of young children by making quality early years programs and services more accessible and affordable. The strategy also ensures that ministries work together on early years issues to support families with young children.

“This means that MCFD and the ministries of education and health work together on child-care strategies and supports,” said Gray. “The strategy outlines a framework, backed by a strong funding commitment, to support families and ensure young British Columbians have the best possible start in life. Under the strategy, we’re investing in the creation of 2,000 new licensed child care spaces throughout the province by March 2016, with the goal of opening a total of 13,000 new spaces by 2020. This builds on the roughly 107,000 licensed child care spaces currently funded across the province.”

Gray notes there are 100,000 licensed child care spaces in B.C. — which is room for only 17 per cent of B.C.’s young children.

In the aforementioned email statement, the MCFD said it has committed $323.5 million for child care in 2015/16 — a 53 per cent increase since 2000/01. It plans to develop an online child-care registry to provide parents with better information about the availability of licensed spaces in their communities.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

LUSH Valley’s partnership with School District 71 this past year helped feed 200 students and families through the Good Food Box program. Screenshot, LUSH Valley/Comox Valley Schools video
LUSH Valley-Comox Valley School Good Food Boxes fed 200 families in 2020

Non-profit organization is looking for new ways to collaborate with school district

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The CVRD building in Courtenay.
Comox Valley organizations in need receive funding

The Comox Valley Regional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has approved $55,000 in… Continue reading

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A virtual public hearing for a rezoning application for a Comox property was held on March 3. Black Press file photo
No comments at public hearing for Anderton Road rezoning application

The virtual public hearing was held on March 3 for the Comox properties

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read