Sunday May 1, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
In the past five years in BC, the Horgan NDP government has made child care a priority.
The complex file includes not only seeing more child care centres open, but dealing with available workers, the training and wages for those workers, and the fee level for parents and families who require that service for the care of their children.
BC was the first province to sign on for the federal supports toward $10-a-day child care. BC has led that policy thrust that the federal Liberal government has glommed onto in a way to bring almost all the provinces on board now.
A key underlying premise to increasing the availability of qualified child care services and spaces is so that women can more fully participate in the workforce, thereby improving family economics and the overall provincial budget bottom line through income taxes.
Businesses over recent years have come to understand the socioeconomic benefits of having child care support for employees who need that for their children. Notably, when the BC NDP were convincing voters of that five years ago, the broader business community was not yet fully on board with the idea that providing child care was ‘not just a social policy but also an economic policy’, as Premier Horgan and later his finance ministers have learned to oft repeat.
Under the Education umbrella:
Recently the provision of child care has been rolled into the Ministry of Education, now creating the BC Ministry of Education and Child Care.
This loops in the 60 school districts of the BC K-12 public education school system for providing not only the child care operational spaces but the responsibility for early childhood education.
Child care spaces are being found or established within existing schools. New schools will likely all have child care spaces as part of the new design for elementary schools (as in the upcoming Pexsisen Elementary School in Sooke School District 62 that is slated to open in September 2022).
The Minister of Education and Child Care is Jennifer Whiteside. The Minister of Children and Family Development is Mitzi Dean.
Statement by Minister of State for Child Care:
Today to kick off Child Care Month for May 2022, Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, has released the following statement:
“Every parent wants to give their child the best start in life. Child care helps give children access to quality early learning programs and enables parents to pursue work, education and opportunity. Quality early care and learning programs contribute to children’s healthy development and celebrate and honour children’s identity and language.
“For years, parents in B.C. were left with a patchwork system where child care was treated as a luxury. As we enter the fifth year of our 10-year ChildCareBC plan, we are making significant progress to turn the corner and reverse this. Since launching our plan in 2018, we have been working hard through ChildCareBC to build spaces, lower fees and train qualified professionals.
“Tens of thousands of parents are already saving up to $1,600 a month per child through the Affordable Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, and thousands more are paying $10 a day or less in our $10 a Day sites. Together with federal investments, average child care fees will be cut by 50% from 2019 levels for families with children under five by the end of 2022.
“We know that expanding the child care system requires new early childhood educators (ECEs), the workforce behind the workforce and the heart of child care. As we enter into Child Care Month, I want to thank the thousands of B.C. child care professionals and celebrate and honour the work you do today and every day caring for our children. British Columbians are grateful for your hard work, sacrifice and dedication, especially during the past two years of the pandemic.
“In recognition of your valuable contribution to the fabric of B.C., we have invested in providing bursaries, doubling the number of ECE student spaces at post-secondary schools, and enhancing ECE wages by $4 per hour.
“Investing in child care and the early years is good for children and families, communities, and the economy. That’s why we’re building a future where access to affordable child care is a core service that’s available to families when and where they need it. We know there is more work to do, and we’re committed to continuing our progress for B.C. families.
“Join me in celebrating Child Care Month and all child care professionals and providers – whether private, public, in-home, non-profit, group, preschool, or school-age – that give our children such a great start in their young lives and help build a StrongerBC for everyone.”
JDF Child Care Centre responds to community demand (January 17, 2022)
BC adds 147 ECE seats at post-secondary campuses (January 17, 2022)
Child care scramble for a week highlights inequities (December 30, 2022)
West Shore Parks & Rec celebrates child care centre & arena (November 30, 2021)
SD62 Board meeting: COVID, child care, CUPE input (November 23, 2021)
BC leads the way for national $10-a-day child care (July 8, 2021)