Parents across B.C. will have access to 3,806 new licensed child-care spaces over the next two years, Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy announced.
Speaking in Vancouver on Monday, Conroy said the new spaces would be split among 52 communities and cost the province $33 million.
As part of the announcement, families in Nelson’s Uphill School House Early Care and Learning Centre is receiving $24,375 in investment from the province. Tracy Barkman, the centre’s manager, told the Star that the money will open up 15 new spaces.
Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston, said in a statement, “Our community needs more quality child-care spaces, and we are starting to get them.”
Conroy said, “This money will create 900 new child-care spaces for infants and toddlers. This announcement will be providing over 500 licensed childcare spaces for Indigenous kids.”
The province will focus on creating 1,153 spaces on school grounds, co-locating them in community hubs and will work to ensure that they are inclusive for children with disabilities.
The 3,800 seats will be spread among 103 projects and of those, 61 will be new buildings while 42 will be renovations.
When pressed on how much the newly-announced child-care spaces will cost, by how much they would reduce waitlists for childcare and when parents can expect to see $10-day-childcare, as promised in the NDP’s election campaign, Conroy deferred to her government’s upcoming February budget.
“What we’re hoping is that they will be affordable child-care spaces,” said Conroy.
When pressed on whether or not the new 3,800 spaces will be subsidized, Conroy would only say that the province “will be rolling that out in February.”
Minister of State for Children Katrina Chen couldn’t provide figures on how many parents would still be waitlisted for child care after the 3,800 new spaces were built.
“We don’t have a system in the province… it’s not like healthcare. So we need a system so we can get that [waitlist] done,” said Conroy.
“We’re working on a three-year implementation program for the 10-year vision,” said Chen.
“We’ll definitely want to provide immediate relief as soon as possible.”