Opinion: NDP’s rollout of $10-a-day childcare a "wreck" for families

Sep 22 2022, 8:14 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Karin Kirkpatrick, Opposition Critic for Children, Family Development and Childcare, and MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano.

I continue to hear from frustrated parents who have not seen any decrease in the cost of childcare since the NDP committed to $10-a-day childcare in 2017. The children who would have benefitted from that promise five years ago are now well beyond the age of needing daycare.

The rollout of affordable childcare in B.C. has been piecemeal at best, and clearly has not been equitable. Over the past several years, only a small number of parents have received $10-a-day childcare — most parents continue to bear the full cost while waiting to become the next lucky ones to “win the lottery.” Rather than picking a small percentage of childcare sites, this government should distribute these funds equally amongst all B.C. parents with children in licensed childcare.

The NDP government likes to pat itself on the back for being the first province to sign on to the federal childcare program. However, most parents have yet to see any benefit. In comparison, the Ontario government — the last province to sign on to the federal program — has taken the first step in implementation by reducing parent fees by 25% across the board for all children aged five and under in licensed daycare centres, retroactive to April 2022. This is part of a rolling reduction program until the $10-a-day program is fully implemented.

Now, the rollout of Ontario’s program has not been without its hiccups — but the intent to treat all parents equally should be the basis of any program. Parents in B.C. should be angry that this has not been the approach in our province.

To make matters worse, this NDP government requested the federal government allow it to roll funds over into future years because it couldn’t spend it all in 2021. To be clear, it means that the government had funds to offset the cost of childcare in B.C. but was unwilling or unable to get it out the door. This is while families have been struggling to stay afloat while footing costly childcare bills, missing work to provide care, or finding less than optimal childcare options.

Last but not least, while other provinces have provided clear and transparent information on how the rollout will impact childcare providers and parents, B.C.’s NDP government has not explained what the process will be — yet it is obligated to have a new system and fee reductions in place for January 1, 2023.

I have always been a strong advocate for universal high-quality childcare. We owe this to our children.

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