Province adding child care spaces

The province is adding 22,000 new licensed child care spaces across the province over the next three years.

“Parents are struggling to find quality, affordable child care, and it’s time we made the investments that are good for families, and for our economy,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, in a news release. “Creating more licensed, affordable child care spaces is a key part of our new Childcare BC plan, so parents can have the peace of mind they need and quality care they can rely on.”

The new spaces will be created through a $221-million investment in the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, which replaces the Child Care Major Capital Funding Program.

These new child care spaces will be more affordable, and the funding will be easier to access for private-sector, non-profit and public-sector child care providers, according to the province. The fund will continue to support the creation of spaces on school grounds, making life easier for families.

As part of this investment, government will be looking to leverage existing facilities – on school grounds, in churches, at recreation centres and other public places – to expand child care for B.C. families. As well, funding preference will continue to be given to communities with the greatest need, such as fast-developing urban centres, and Indigenous, rural and remote communities. Creating infant and toddler spaces will be a priority.

The BC Liberals, however, say the funding amount of $221 million in the new Childcare BC New Spaces Fund is less than the 2018 budget promise of $237 million over three years to fund the old Child Care Major Capital Funding Program.

“There is less money here,” said Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness. “In today’s announcement, the newly-labelled Childcare New Spaces BC Fund offers just $221 million.  This is worse than mere window dressing; the government is taking away the curtains.”

“I am deeply concerned about the government’s sudden change of priorities. Under the government’s new plan, market-based child care providers may apply for funding, but are eligible for four times less money than nonprofits; $250,000 compared to $1 million. Market-based providers make up about 80 per cent of all providers in B.C. The government is literally taking gas out of the engine of growth in child care spaces.”

The previous Liberal government had originally promised 13,000 new child care spaces but then, on the eve of the June 2017 Throne Speech and subsequent defeat of the government, they announced a $1 billion daycare policy, proposing the creation of 60,000 additional spaces over four years in addition to the 13,000. The Liberals also campaigned against the NDP’s pledge of $10/day daycare, citing it as too expensive.