B.C. Finance Minister Carole James visits a Victoria daycare on the eve of her first budget, Feb. 19, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

The 2018 B.C. budget is touting a “made-in-BC” child care plan, with an investment of more than $1 billion to put the province on the path to universal child care with more than 24,000 child care spaces over the next three years.

A new child care benefit that will be rolled out in September will reduce child care costs by up to $1,250 per month per child and support 86,000 B.C. families per year by 2020/21. The province has also announced they’ll be providing up to $350 per month directly to licensed child care providers starting April 1 that is expected to reduce fees for an estimated 50,000 families per year by 2020/21.

“Budget 2018 offers the largest investment in childcare in B.C.’s history with a billion-dollar child care investment over three years,” Finance Minister Carole James said Tuesday. “It will lower costs for parents, it will increase the number of childcare spaces, and it will make sure that those spaces meet the highest standards for quality care.”

The expansion of child care facilities and the improvement of care will provide immediate relief to tens of thousands of families, according to the province, who say these steps — in addition to lowering fees for parents and increasing the number of qualified early childhood educators — will drop fees at licensed child care centres for infants and toddlers, and for children between the ages of three and five years old.

Families using unlicensed care will also be eligible to receive a partial benefit, while the province will continue to support those facilities and encourage them to become licensed.

James said she has heard from parents across the province who say they are anxious about child care and often that anxiety begins before their child is even born.

“Parents want quality child care that is safe and gives them peace of mind while they are at work. For those parents lucky enough to find a spot, they struggle to afford high child care fees,” noted James.

“We also need to make sure we heed the ever-expanding body of research that shows us that public spending on childcare is a wise social and economic investment.”

In Vancouver, which boasts some of the highest child care rates in the country, a median fee is $1,250 per month for infants and toddlers, according to the province. And the rest of the province is not much better. Infant and toddler care averages $1,000 per month on south Vancouver Island and the Kootenays, and it’s almost as high in the Okanagan and Interior.

The new fee reductions for licensed care operators who join the program will see:

  • up to $350/month for group infant/toddler care
  • up to $200/month for family infant/toddler care
  • up to $100/month for group care for children aged 3-5
  • up to $60/month for family care for children aged 3-5

Families with pre-tax incomes of $45,000 of less will receive the full benefit, up to the cost of care, while those who make up to $111,000 will receive a reduced amount, scaling back according to income. Benefit amounts will grow over the years, and are expected to help up to 86,000 families by the end of 2020/21.

“This creates real, transformational change in our society,” explained James. “Our plan will be affordable for families and the province. It will be accessible for parents so they can get back to work and most importantly it will give children a safe, supportive place to learn and grow by meeting rigorous quality standards.”

$10 a day childcare

No mention was made during Tuesday’s budget lockup of the $10 a day childcare, which became the NDP’s slogan during last year’s election campaign. Following the provincial throne speech last week, Premier John Horgan reiterated his commitment to the plan, but also pointed out it was put together by child care providers and not the province.

“We’ve embraced it and we’re going to implement it. We’ve had discussions with some other members of other party’s in the legislature and we’re bringing people around, I believe, to a position that will meet that commitment,” Horgan said at the time.

“The first three years are the ramp-up period, where we’re looking at toddler or infant care and creating more spaces for training more people and those elements will be in the budget.”

Those statements were met with strong opposition by the B.C. Liberal party and their new leader Andrew Wilkinson, who stated you cannot build a childcare program (or any other social program) on $10 per day.

“During our time in office, we provided tens of thousands of new childcare spaces and what the NDP has done is vastly over promise that they can provide $10 per day childcare to everyone in British Columbia that wants it, in a safe, licensed facility,” he said.

“And today their efforts in that direction show they cannot deliver on this. They knew this during the election, they have confirmed today that they made promises during the election they have no intention of keeping, starting with the big ones of housing and childcare.”

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver reminded residents that his party also campaigned on quality childcare and early childhood eduction, and hoped to hear more about the issue of supply.



ragnar.haagen@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

Whitewater offering ski program for people with cognitive impairments

Discounted tickets for skiers and chaperones, as well as lessons, are available

Breanna Faulkner, Kootenay Swim Club win at Kelowna Snowfest

Faulker won four medals, including two gold

Calendars for a cause: Linocut calendars raise funds for Kalein Centre

The last few calendars and cards are available at Cowan’s Office Supplies and Zinnia Textiles

VIDEO: Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens play to the crowd in Nelson

The charity game was a spectacle from puck drop

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read