Green Party campaign bus is unveiled in Vancouver last week.

BC Green Party policy still in daycare

Extending kindergarten to four- and three-year-olds, free child care, paying parents to stay home adds up to a fantasy

The B.C. Green Party has begun rolling out its election promises as the campaign formally begins this week.

Andrew Weaver’s Greens are doing their best to look like a contender this time, rolling a biodiesel-fuelled bus to visit candidates in most of B.C.’s 87 constituencies.  But judging by the early policy releases, their platform is not yet that of a government in waiting.

Weaver has seen the NDP’s giant bet to provide $10-a-day universal daycare, and raised it. Green Party daycare will be “free” for kids up to age two with working parents. For parents who wish to stay home during those infant years, they will receive “up to” $500 a month from the province, on top of EI benefits.

That’s not all. The public school system will be expanded to provide early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. This will also be “free,” although they ball-park the cost to the provincial treasury for this at around $4 billion a year.

Leader of a one-person caucus, Weaver has not yet entered the realm of realism. His education fantasy will get a cool reception from Metro Vancouver mayors, who are currently pleading for relief from school property taxes that are tied to assessed values, already twice as high as the rest of the province.

With the provincial economy having to shoulder steep increases in carbon taxes, and the oil and gas industry soon regulated out of business, a Green-governed B.C. would have to run its grand programs on taxes from those still here and working.

NDP leader John Horgan says his heavily subsidized $10-a-day daycare program will pay for itself through economic growth. Expect more discussion of that in the weeks ahead, but at least it’s something that could happen, as we have seen in Quebec.

The B.C. Liberal record includes spending $11.3 million in the past year for the third phase of its expansion of child care spaces. That phase amounts to 1,800 more spaces in 30 communities. The province currently covers about 15 per cent of licensed daycare operating costs through subsidies, and also assists qualified low-income parents.

Is that enough? Many would say no. With the cost of land and operations rising, long waiting lists and rates as high as $1,400 a month, child care is still out of reach for many in urban areas.

The province began extending kindergarten for five-year-olds from half days to full days in 2010, and has developed a network called StrongStart Centres, providing after-school programs for parents and children at public schools.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux has also been reviewing regulations.

“We’re looking at the restrictions we put on child care providers in terms of outdoor space, in terms of sun access,” Cadieux said last spring. “We want to make sure that child care is safe and we have quality, but we also want to make sure that we’re not creating a situation that is unreasonable.”

Easy to parody, no doubt: Come on my little pretties, down in the cellar!

But Cadieux speaks as a realist who has had cabinet turn down budget increases for this and other pressing social needs. She also confronts the cost of real estate in places where daycare is most needed.

If you believe there is enough money to massively increase child care across B.C. with no cost recovery, and to pay parents to stay home until their kids are two, you might even believe there is biodiesel available in every B.C. community to keep Weaver’s campaign bus running.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read