Rob Shaw: BC United promises daycare cash for families

Rob Shaw: BC United promises daycare cash for families
BC United Leader Kevin Falcon is pictured outside Saxe Point Day Care on June 6, 2024.

Beleaguered BC United leader Kevin Falcon unveiled a major child care election promise in Esquimalt on Tuesday, as he attempted to turn the page on recent defections from his party with a bold new policy idea.

Falcon said he will offer cash subsidies to parents unable to access the NDP government’s current $10-a-day child care spaces, within 90 days of forming government. 

“I want all the parents out there struggling with unaffordable daycare to understand this: we are going to fix this problem immediately,” he said.

“At this rate, where we’re going, all of their children, all of their kids, will be graduating high school by the time those spaces are in place under this NDP government.”

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BC United has been slumping in public opinion polls, and two MLAs defected to the upstart BC Conservatives in the last week. 

Falcon said this is the first in a series of major policy announcements.

Only 10 per cent of child care spaces in B.C. are currently true $10-a-day spots, seven years after the NDP promised the program in the 2017 election. The NDP has also changed the benchmark for success, no longer aiming to have a “universal” $10-a-day system, but instead an “average” in which some parents pay much more than the promised rate.

The United plan would return the difference in fees back to parents in subsidies. For example, parents who are currently paying $1,200 a month for daycare (an average amount in B.C.) would get $1,000 back from the government, leaving them paying out-of-pocket the equivalent of a month at the $10-a-day rate.

The United plan also calls for more involvement from private daycare providers, more inclusion of spaces in public buildings like hospitals and schools, and a new fair wage grid for early childhood educators to help with recruitment.

NDP child care minister Mitzi Dean called the proposal “not credible” in a social media post, questioning how United plans to pay for the promise while also “calling for spending cuts.”

Falcon made the announcement at Saxe Point Day Care, which is owned by Meagan Brame, his Esquimalt-Colwood candidate in the Oct. 19 provincial election.

“This gives private operators hope that they will be part of the solution, which is what we need,” said Brame. 

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

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