Home Social Trends Children & Childcare Continuing child care space success in BC says Dean

Continuing child care space success in BC says Dean

Currently in BC: 15,000 $10-a-day child care spaces

mitzi dean, bc legislature
Minister of State for Child Care, Mitzi Dean, in the BC Legislative Assembly on May 9, 2024. [Hansard livestream]

Thursday May 9, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated May 10, 2024]

Political analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The number of child care spaces and supports for families with children was tidily summarized by Minister of State for Child Care Mitiz Dean today in the BC Legislative Assembly.

mitzi dean, child care
Mitzi Dean, Minister of State for Child Care at the UBC child care centre in Vancouver, Feb 9, 2024. [web]

In a brief statement during Oral Question Period, Dean says that currently there are 15,000 $10-a-day child care spaces in BC.

Since the launch of ChildCareBC in 2018, the number of licensed spaces in the province has grown from 111,000 to over 148,000.

Dean says that 35,000 children are supported monthly by affordable child care benefit, with low and middle income families saving up to $1,250 per month per child.

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Additionally, over 140,000 families are supported by at least one program.

Dean added that the number of spaces is “increasing by thousands”.

Back on February 9 during a child care announcement held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver — where newly approved $10-a-day spaces were announced as offered at 25 child care centres throughout BC, including Houston, Squamish, Surrey and Vancouver — Dean said: “Finding child care and paying for it is one of the biggest challenges families face.”

For too long, child care was treated as a luxury that shut out many families – and the Province is changing that, a ministry statement says.

That the BC Government has provided subsidies to families to pay for child care has been a significant boost to the program of expanding child care in the province.

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Challenges to child care expansion:

One of the key challenges to child care space expansion is the aspect of staffing. Training for Early Childhood Educators takes time. The NDP government has in recent years increased the wage level for ECE workers.

Friday May 10 is Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. “The contributions of child care professionals lift up families, communities, and local and provincial economies,” says Dean.

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“Early childhood professionals are required to deliver child care, which is why, as we build new spaces and reduce costs for families, we are also focused on recognizing, training, recruiting and retaining early childhood educators,” says a Ministry statement.

  • “We are helping with the cost of education, enhancing wages, providing better access to training and professional development, and streamlining pathways for international ECEs, and more information on ECE investments is anticipated later this month.”
  • “And, we continue working hard to improve compensation and recognize the value and professional work of ECEs.”
  • More information on supports for ECEs is available online.

The BC Government has have invested in bursaries, new post-secondary early childhood educator (ECE) spaces, grants for specialized education and a wage increase of up to $6 per hour over the past six years.

mitzi dean, mla, child care
Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) announced the opening of a new child care facility at the West Shore Parks & Recreation building in Colwood, Dec 6, 2021. [Island Social Trends]

BC is currently testing a wage grid for ECEs at select child care centres to inform how that can be expended to the larger child care sector.

Facility space challenge:

Other challenges have included finding space, and businesses or non-profits finding the funding to operate the physical facilities.

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Political challenge:

Until the BC NDP Horgan government took on child care full blast, the business community in BC generally regarded child care as something external to their interest and needs. Since 2017, the business sector seems to have become convinced that child care services are foundational to the availability and reliability of many of their workers.

Opposition parties will do what they do, but rarely do they acknowledge the entrenched challenges (like ECE training, wages and facility expansion) to expanding child care spaces.

karin kirkpatrick, child care
Criticism of the BC Government’s progress with child care, posted in social media on May 9, 2024. [X]

New Spaces Fund:

Since 2018 through the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund, the Province has helped create more than 37,000 new licensed child care spaces, with more than 18,000 of these spaces open and providing care for children and the remaining in various stages of development.

  • Spaces and facilities opened through the fund are regularly announced through the ministry’s news page: https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/education-and-child-care, including 84 spaces that were recently announced for the ŚEŚIŚEJ Childcare Centre in the Saanich School District.
  • Funding for new child care spaces through the News Spaces Fund is focused on community investments that are long term and run by public and non-profit institutions.
  • The previous intake of the New Spaces Fund closed in February and the next intake will be opening in the coming days. Guidelines for the upcoming intake have already been posted online at: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund
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Political shift:

Politically speaking, the child care portfolio might seem less significant than Dean’s previous post as Minister of Children and Family Development (MCFD). But the two-term MLA seems to present with more clarity and purpose in her new role that started in January 2024.

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With the BC provincial election upcoming on October 19, these are strong points for Dean to take door to door as a candidate for election to her third term as an MLA.

Dean was first elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2020 as the MLA For Esquimalt-Metchosin. The new riding boundary changes see the riding for her race renamed as Esquimalt-Colwood.

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LOCAL JOURNALISM INFORMS — we bring you local news about your community. Island Social Trends reports news with socioeconomic insights and analysis. Independent news service on south Vancouver Island, BC. Read free online or get the biweekly PDF by email.


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Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering news of the west shore region since 2008 and the province more broadly since 2018, through a socioeconomic lens and always with political insights and analysis.

News is posted daily at IslandSocialTrends.ca which is independent journalism supported by advertisers and sponsor-subscribers.

In 2022, Mary Brooke ran for school trustee in the west shore (SD62 – Belmont Zone) to highlight the challenges for parents and families in the current public education system.

In 2023, Mary P Brooke was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation journalism award for serving her community through professional journalism. She has devoted her journalism to local communities since 2008 through her publications MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020) and now Island Social Trends (since 2020).

In addition to her journalism career, in 2024 Ms Brooke has led the launch of Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society.