‘Needs to be a top priority’: Advocates urge province to increase $10-a-day child-care funding

'Needs to be a top priority': Advocates urge province to increase $10-a-day child-care funding

Advocates and families across B.C. are concerned the province is falling behind on its promise to implement universal $10-a-day child-care spots.

This comes after the provincial budget contained a minimal increase to the program.

Back in 2017, the provincial NDP government created a 10-year program promising $10-a-day child care for every family across B.C.

In 2020, the federal government created its own five-year funding commitment to helping provinces implement affordable child care across the country.

“I’m certainly very proud of the fact that we have been able to encourage Ottawa to put that kind of support into our child-care programs here in British Columbia,” Premier David Eby said at a press conference in Vancouver Monday.

The ongoing funding is good news, but the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC is concerned with the program’s expansion pace.

Sharon Gregson, with the coalition’s $10-a-day child-care campaign, said the province currently has enough licensed child-care spots for 24 per cent of children.

“Which means children zero to 12, 75 per cent of them don’t have any access to licensed child care. Of the child care we do have, only about 10 per cent of it is an actual $10 a day site,” Gregson said.

Victoria resident Eric Swanson has two children in $10-a-day child-care spots.

He said receiving this affordable daycare has been life-changing for his family because previously, either he or his wife had to stay home to take care of the kids because they couldn’t afford child care.

“It means my wife and I can both work without having to worry about paying another mortgage-sized payment on child-care spots,” Swanson explained.

Gregson said the coalition was hoping for an expansion of the program in the recently released 2024/25 provincial budget.

During the budget announcement Thursday, the $10-a-day child care program received a $252 million increase.

About $214.5 million, or 85 per cent, of that came from the federal government. The remaining $37.9 million was provincial funding.

Gregson said the provincial portion is not enough funds to grow the program to create more spaces for eagerly awaiting parents.

“It was surprising given the finance minister acknowledges 100,000 more parents and mothers are able to participate in the workforce primarily due to access to affordable child care,” Gregson explained.

“Knowing that child care is such an economic engine for the province that there would be more speed, more scale and more scope in building the $10 a day system more quickly.”

She said the B.C. isn’t expanding the program as quickly, with provincial dollars, as the situation calls for.

The lack of expansion also had the BC United question if the province will make its universal $10-a-day goal in the 10-year timeline.

“I don’t see their ability to implement and make sure that it’s up and running,” said Karin Kirkpatrick, BC United MLA and shadow minister for childcare.

Swanson added he wants to see more progress from the province as he knows a number of parents struggling to find affordable daycare options.

“It needs to be a top priority,” Swanson said.

The provincial NDP said it remains focused on providing child-care subsidies for all families across the province.

Minister of state for child care, Mitzi Dean, told CHEK News, “We have a vision for all families to be able to access affordable and good quality child care if that’s what they want and that’s what they need. We have a vision for all families to be able to access on average $10-a-day child care.”


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