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YMCA of Northern BC hails new federal/provincial child care agreement

YMCA of Northern BC CEO Amanda Alexander
YMCA of Northern BC CEO Amanda Alexander

The YMCA of Northern BC is celebrating that British Columbia is the first province to finalize an agreement with Ottawa towards a Canada-wide, community-based system of quality early learning and child care.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan announced the agreement in Coquitlam this morning.

As part of this agreement, the Government of Canada will provide $3.2 billion over the next five years to help improve regulated early learning and child care for children under six years of age in British Columbia.

Under this agreement, British Columbia and Canada agree on the goal of $10 a day child care, and will work together towards achieving an average parent fee of $10 per day for all regulated child care spaces for children under six years old by the end of the five-year agreement. By the end of 2022, British Columbians will see a 50 per cent reduction in average parent fees for children under the age of six years old in regulated child care, according to the federal government.

This agreement will lead to the creation of 30,000 new regulated early learning and child care spaces for children under the age of six years old within five years, and 40,000 spaces within seven years. These spaces will be focused on community investments that are long-term and run by public and non-profit institutions.

“Non-profit child care providers have laid the foundation of the current child care system, long before this significant provincial and federal investments we are seeing now,” said Amanda Alexander, CEO of the YMCA of Northern BC. “As child care migrates to the education sector, non-profit providers will be vital in a smooth transition to a seamless, universal model of care.”

As the economy continues to recover through the pandemic and beyond, families need access to safe, affordable, and high-quality learning and care environments, she said. This is particularly important for women who have been disproportionately impacted through this pandemic.

The YMCA, as the largest non-profit child care provider in British Columbia, is uniquely positioned as an important partner in building a high-quality universal child care system, for early years and for school-age programs, she said.

The YMCA of Northern BC has been expanding child care for years, and the continued growth of YMCA early learning and child care programs would be accelerated with: increased capital funding to build long-term, community-based spaces; a more robust workforce to ensure there are enough well-trained Early Childhood Education professionals to support this growth; strong partnerships with the public sector to build and operate seamless child care on school and municipal land; and, additional supports for school age child care so families can continue to access affordable child care once their children begin school.

The YMCA prioritizes healthy child development and family engagement through its own play-based curriculum, national standards, and child protection policies.

“We are well-positioned to do even more for children and families,” Alexander said. “We look forward to continuing to work to ensure all children have access to high quality early learning and child care.”

“Too many parents across the country are struggling to find affordable, high-quality child care,” said Trudeau in a news release. “This agreement with British Columbia is a big step forward in establishing Canada-wide child care that will make life more affordable for families, get women back into the workforce, and drive economic growth, while giving every child in Canada, no matter where they live, the chance to achieve their potential.”

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