May is child care month: investing in children and families makes sense

May 5, 2016

As many of you know, I spent nearly 30 years as an early childhood educator. That’s why I feel so strongly this province is missing out on a marvelous opportunity to benefit working British Columbians, their children and employers.

This is an achievement that could be easily realized if governments would just agree to invest in a public system of quality, affordable child care by adopting the $10 a day child care plan.

Such an investment makes common and economic sense. Let’s look at Quebec, a province with a $7/day child care system. Its provincial government gets $1.05 back for every $1.00 it invests. The federal government gets money for nothing. It recovers $.44 with NO direct investment in the Quebec system.

B.C. would stand to benefit similarly if it were to adopt such a plan. According to the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, roughly 17,000 mothers could return to or enter the work force, and pay their share of income taxes, if they could access affordable quality child care.

We often hear of parents who can’t return to work because child care isn’t available. When it is accessible, many simply cannot afford it. More than 80 per cent of B.C. parents who access child care say the costs, ranging from $800 to $2000 per month per child, put a serious financial strain on their families.

You can imagine what a relief a $10 a day child care plan would be.

That’s not all. B.C. businesses and employers would also benefit. It’s not easy to retain employees struggling to balance work and home life. High absenteeism, turnover and lower productivity cost B.C. employers $600-million annually. Access to affordable child care would change that.

Some governments believe tax credits provide parents with adequate resources to access child care. They’re wrong. Tax credits haven’t created a single extra child care space in Canada. As well, they do nothing to address affordability for working parents.

This isn’t just a dollars and cents issue. It’s also about building sustainable communities, while supporting quality of life and work/life balance, and providing quality early childhood education to B.C. children. Countries around the world have recognized the importance of building strong early learning and child care systems. It’s time B.C. followed suit.

You can learn more about the $10 a day campaign and sign a petition here

You can also help your union promote child care month and the $10 a day plan throughout May by sharing the link on social media. 

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