Since the 2017 B.C. election, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan’s promise to provide subsidized child care at $10 a day has been a point of contention. In the 2020 election, the urgency of getting people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic has turned up the heat on all parties.
B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson moved to match the NDP’s $10 a day promise Oct. 9, via a $1 billion program that would provide daycare at that rate per child for families with income up to $65,000. The rate would rise to $20 a day for family incomes up to $90,000 and $30 a day for families making up to $125,000.
“The only $10-a-day daycare in British Columbia right now is a federal pilot program that provides 2,000 spaces out of a total of 100,000 spaces in B.C.” Wilkinson said.
Horgan backed away from the across-the-board promise as his minority government dug into the issue, acknowledging it was a campaign slogan borrowed from the B.C. Federation of Labour. He also ran into opposition from his minority government partner, former Green leader Andrew Weaver, who objected to the flat $10 price tag and said child care should be free for low-income families.
The Horgan government’s main initiative was the “affordable child care benefit,” where families register for subsidies to use licensed child care each year. It replaced the B.C. Liberal subsidy program, and the NDP says it has reached more people.
Debating the issue in the B.C. legislature in March, Katrina Chen, the NDP’s minister of state for child care, said the B.C. Liberal subsidies were reaching 21,411 families and 31,122 children.
“As of February of this year, over 66,000 children have been approved for the affordable child care benefit,” Chen said.
In its 2020 election platform, the NDP says its efforts are already delivering daycare to 32,700 families at $10 a day or less, with help from Ottawa.
The B.C. Green Party emphasizes early childhood education as well as daycare, with “professional wages” and training for existing child care workers. Leader Sonia Furstenau’s plan also includes encouraging employers to offer a four-day work week and telecommuting so parents would be more available to take care of their own children.
Up to $500 a month for families with children under three and a stay-at-home parent
Increasing child care funding by a third over three years to cover new programs
Up to 25 hours per week of free early childhood education for ages three and four
Expand the number of $10-a-day spaces with further federal assistance
Pass a law to protect “affordable, accessible, inclusive” child care
Create 22,000 new child care spaces with construction and modular structures
$1 billion to deliver $10- to $30-a-day daycare for families up to $125,000 income
A single online application form for all provincially funded daycare
A plan to create thousands of new spaces, detailed in the party platform