Universal Child Care

Provide universal child care for in Vancouver for children under 5yrs

Reducing costs for parents: $10/day child care

Childcare is the second largest household expense for families with young children after housing. The cost of infant/toddler care in Vancouver now exceeds $1,325 per month or $16,000 per year. The cost is so prohibitive that many mothers/parents have cannot afford to continue working.

In order for a universal child care program to function, it has to be affordable for all families. Universal child care gives mothers/parents the option to re-enter the workforce. Research in Quebec has shown that the economic benefits of parents re-entering the workforce (through payroll taxes and reduced need for social assistance) outweigh the costs of the universal program. Universal childcare pays for itself. Just as it is more expensive to keep people homeless on the streets, it is more expensive to society for childcare to be unaffordable and inaccessible.

Quebec’s child care system returns $1.05 to its government for every $1 invested - and Ottawa recovers 44 cents, even with no direct investment. More broadly, every public dollar invested in quality child care returns at least $2.54 to the overall economy.

The new 2018 BC provincial fee reductions for licensed childcare facilities reach a maximum of $350/month, reducing the average monthly fee to about $1,000/month or ~$45/day -- still an astronomical number for many parents. Households making under $45,000 gross income per year will have additional deep subsidies -- which is a good start. However, many women and parents who re-enter the workforce will then see their income increase and subsidy reduced. This disincentive to employment undermines the gender equity and economic purposes of a childcare system.

The City should enter into negotiations with the Provincial government to make Vancouver a “pilot city” for a comprehensive universal child care program:

  • The City will be responsible for creating the spaces needed to accommodate existing and new need (see below).
  • The Province will expand fee reductions making child care $10/day for all children; because of parents re-entering the workforce, new provincial revenues are expected to exceed the cost; any lag in revenues could be covered by a minor increase in “Provincial School” property levy.
  • Ensure that Early Childhood Educators are paid a living wage of at least $25 per hour plus 20% benefits in a unionized environment.

Create 7,500 new early child care spaces

After Quebec’s universal child care program was introduced in 1998, enrollment of children <5 yrs grew from just 18% to over 50% in just ten years, and now is 66% for those 2-4 yrs. The $10/day childcare campaign in BC anticipates that an even higher percentage of children may participate in a universal child care program here.

There simply are not sufficient childcare spaces in Vancouver. There are 25,000 children under the age of 5, but only 8,100 childcare spaces, accommodating only ~32% of children. The City of Vancouver anticipates that 7,500 childcare spaces are needed for kids under 5 (also see here), which would accommodate over 60% of children.

However, the provincial government’s Dec 2017 announcement of 453 new spaces in Vancouver is insufficient. Even after the 2018 budget (22,000 province-wide, or ~2,000 for Vancouver), we will need to create another 5,000-6,000 spaces.

The 2018 BC budget will create 24,000 spaces provincewide with an investment of $237 million, or only about $10,000 per space. This will be achieved by making it easier “for child care providers to receive support for their operations and to accelerate the availability of child care that is co-located on school grounds so we can deliver more spaces in more neighbourhoods and more communities.” Using this approach, the City of Vancouver could create an additional 6,000 spaces with an investment of $60 million.

Therefore, the City of Vancouver should double its capital plan budget from $30 million (2014-2018) to $60 million so that we can create enough spaces for universal early child care in the next four years (2019-2023).

The City should immediately conduct a needs assessment, identify locations for child care facilities and providers, and create a plan for roll-out of universal child care in the City of Vancouver; and create a centralized waitlist - a resource used in Ottawa and Quebec - which would serve as a database for those seeking information on child care availability.

Care for children aged 5-12

There is an after-school care crisis in Vancouver. There are 37,000 children aged 5-12 in Vancouver, but only 5,000 spaces for before/after school care and a need for 10,000 more spaces. The cost of creating spaces in schools is far less than creating infant/toddler spaces (up to 5 times less), so progress can be made rapidly. Unfortunately new provincial funding has not focused on this crisis. We need universal child care for children aged 5-12.

The City should put pressure on the Provincial Government to follow other province’s model of moving childcare into the Ministry of Education to ensure that it is a publically funded and administered service and to eliminate the false divide between ‘early care’ and ‘early learning.’

Indigenous-centred child care

Work with First Nations to build an effective early care and learning system that provides First Nations with the power, resources and supports — with the involvement of Elders and Knowledge Keepers — to design, govern and deliver holistic early care and learning services that meet the needs of their children, families and communities in ways strengthened through Aboriginal knowledge and worldview.

In keeping with Diana Day’s policy recommendation to the VSB: Ensure that all Early Childhood Educators in BC are trained in anti-racism and anti-bullying and are educated about the history, cultures and practices of Indigenous peoples and can integrate these learnings into the programs they provide for all children.

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