A publicly funded childcare option that’s affordable could help create a blueprint for parents to return to work.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCFPA) believes a $10 a day child care program in B.C. would pay for itself and boost the economy.
“We’re facing a child care crisis,” said Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist at CCFPA and author of Solving B.C.’s Child Care Affordability Crisis: Financing the $10 A Day Plan. “The prices for child care are rising very fast — faster than inflation — and families cannot even find space, so this makes it very difficult for women to return from parental leave and go back to work or pursue education, and it’s undermining our economy.”
She believes that if a $10-a-day childcare program (that could be waived for families with incomes under $40,000) could be established provincially, it would help struggling families.
According to the research completed by CCFPA, B.C. has the second highest fees in Canada, with median fees in 2012 ranging from $760 to $1,047 per month, depending on the child’s age. Subsidies for low-income parents have been frozen for ten years, while fees have risen faster than inflation.
There would be an increase in provincial and federal government revenue if parents returned to their workplaces under this program.
“Universal child care is entirely affordable for B.C., either as a federal-provincial partnership or a B.C.-only program, like the one in Quebec,” added Ms. Ivanova. “Canada invests very little in early childhood education and care, and so does B.C.
“The federal and provincial governments provide child care tax credits, but these only make a dent in the costs, and do nothing to create new child care spaces.”
Under the proposed financing plan, she added, families with young children would save thousands of dollars, and mothers who want to work would be able to, which could help improve social inclusion and economic prosperity.
The cost of the $10 A Day Plan has been estimated around $1.5 billion — only $200 million more than the increase in provincial and federal tax revenues it would generate.
But without federal support, the province of B.C. would be forced to raise approximately $870 million annually because the boost in federal tax revenues could not be counted in the provincial financing plan.
Lynell Anderson, spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, voiced a desire to create change and was eager to be a part of those steps.
“Our choices are clear,” said Ms. Anderson. “We can continue to watch families struggle with high parent fees and long wait lists, settling for unregulated child care with no monitoring or oversight, not to mention women having to give up their paid work and career goals. Or, this study shows that we can choose from a range of equitable and affordable financing options to implement the $10 A Day Child Care Plan. Given the substantial and widespread benefits at stake, even in the short term, we can’t afford not to make this investment.”