Rita Chudnovsky: Plan for $10-a-day childcare striking a chord in B.C.

More than 30 years ago, the women’s movement put childcare on the public agenda. And while there have been important successes along the way, it can get depressing for grandmothers like me to see so little political progress. Parent fees are too high, staff wages are too low, there are nowhere near enough spaces and public funding is almost non-existent.

But the good news is that there’s a solution.

The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. and the Early Childhood Educators of B.C. have a plan to solve B.C.’s child-care crisis that’s been striking a chord: the 2011 Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning. Who’s on board so far? Support has come from the City of Vancouver and a dozen other municipalities; the Vancouver, Burnaby, Campbell River, Cowichan Valley, Kootenay Columbia, and Gulf Islands school boards; the Surrey Board of Trade; the Vancouver and District Labour Council, BCGEU, CUPE B.C., and B.C. Teachers’ Federation; a growing list of academics and businesses; and too many parents to count.

In my decades of child-care advocacy, I have never seen this level of enthusiasm or support for progressive child-care policy. What’s got everyone so excited? For starters, the promise of $10-a-day childcare. Under the Plan, new public dollars will go to child-care programs to cap parent fees at $10 per day for full-time care and $7 per day for part-time care and make it free for families who make less than $40,000 a year. Families could save up to $10,000 a year and many could move out of poverty. Funding would also increase child-care workers’ wages to an average of $25 an hour plus benefits. With increased educational opportunities, early childhood educators would finally earn the income and respect they deserve.

But, the Plan is about more than money. It’s about rights. By signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination against Women, Canada and B.C. promised to honour children’s and women’s right to childcare. The Plan calls on B.C. to finally enshrine this right in a new B.C. Early Care and Learning Act.

The Plan moves childcare from the current patchwork to a democratically governed public system. Following international trends, it integrates childcare into our education system in a way that builds on the strengths of both our public school system and quality, community-based childcare. The Plan extends the universality, public funding and democratic governance of the public school system to services for children under the age of five on a voluntary basis. And it strengthens play-based, experiential, nurturing programs that are staffed by qualified early childhood educators.

The Plan welcomes existing providers into the new system and makes school boards responsible for creating new services that their communities need. It also ensures they have the funds to get the job done.

The Plan is not about standardized curriculum or academic achievement for young children. Children will still start school at age five but their early care and learning programs will be strong and equal partners with the K-12 system. Childcare will be an expected and accepted part of neighbourhoods, and, with time, may well be a positive influence on all levels of the education system.

Support for the Plan grows daily. Find out more on the Plan website.

Rita Chudnovsky is a research associate with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Comments (17) Add New Comment
jonnny
I absolutely do NOT condone using tax dollars to pay for someones daycare!!!

Make daycare expenses a deductible expense, but it should NOT be paid for by the government except for people in poverty.
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Birdy
Brilliant... raise the parents taxes, tell them it's for "free" childcare, ban independent providers, then give the cash to school board bureaucrats. What a great solution. Someone give this lady a medal and a cup of $17 orange juice.
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Sharon Gregson
Great idea guys - how about we all stop paying any taxes at all...you'd love that until you have a heart attack and need to get some expensive health care - or you have grandchildren and your kids ask you to quit work and care for their children because they can't find or afford daycare. Sorry to tell you but even the United Nations just slammed Canada for being a wealthy country that ignores the need for public investment into the care and well-being of young children.

Wake up and smell the coffee - this is 2012 - mothers work and children deserve access to quality child care - working parents pay taxes which benefits us all.
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NoLeftNutter
What a load of crap. Of course support for this idea is "growing". There will always be someone that wants something for nothing. The question is - why should the rest of us pay for it?
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okrdregs
Some things are best paid for collectively through our taxes: healthcare, childcare, retirement. The economic & social rewards far outweigh the costs. For childcare, the economic benefit is at least $6 for every $1 invested in the system.

For those who moan, I don't want to pay for your kids, give your head a shake. Early childhood is where 80% of learning happens. Get that right, and you prevent lots of societal problems later on... and avoid lots of costs too.
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Sharon Gregson
For those who are so concerned about paying for someone else - you should know that the Quebec child care system pays for itself because more mothers can go to work and pay taxes on their paycheques and are spending more $ in the local economies. This notion of something for nothing is absurd - as a working mother I pay taxes and I expect services. The same way you pay taxes and expect bridges to drive over, hospitals to visit and libraries and swimming pools, etc...
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Jabberwock
Why should we pay for it? Because we need kids- kids to create a tax base to support you in your old age, maintain the roads to drive you to right-wing nutbar meetings, etc. And we need women at work, to create jobs, to fill jobs and yes, to pay those taxes to support all the government subsidies and programs that benefit YOU. It is about living a civil society. We don't get to limit how our tax dollars to support only those things we feel benefit us. I am healthy and don't drive. I don't resent the tax dollars spent to support our public health system and transportation network. Are you too unsophisticated to realize that women at work with healthy, well cared for children are a net benefit to society, the economy, and your future well being?
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Hardy
Parents should be encouraged to raise their own children. With government (TAXPAYERS) responsible, the kids are just going to turn out funny.

What can $10 buy these days?
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Natty
I was intrigued until that "tax-payer subsidized" bit. Children are a lifestyle choice these days, so why should childless people support your munchkins from birth all the way to age 18?
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Sharon Gregson
You say "children are a lifestyle choice".... are you serious?

Parents who use child care are still raising their own kids - quality child care is an extension of the family - not a replacement for it.

Tell me why it is you agree that our tax dollars can be used in the K-12 public education system but not for public investment in the care and education of younger children? What magically happens at age 5 that we have public responsibility for children but prior to that it's every mother for herself....

When a working mother pays taxes why should she also have to pay $1915 a month for child care services?
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OMG
How can parents raise their own kids 24/7..?! They do raise them but not while they're at work. Wake up! Everyone needs to work and pay taxes. Parents male or female have to work to support their families and pay taxes to support the programs YOU care about. Who will care for you when you are in a nursing home in your old age (if you can afford it), ha? Those kids who got child care with OUR taxes. I'm not old, so who cares about programs for the elderly then..? Someone made a comment here: "There will always be someone that wants something for nothing". A child's life, well- being and education is nothing...? Wow, now we know why "the kids are just going to turn out funny". I don't have kids and I absolutely support this. Yeah, let's "NOT condone using tax dollars to pay for someones daycare" but let's use our taxes to pay for a $17 orange juice glass...
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Arthur Vandelay
If $10 childcare applied to only those who couldn't afford market rate care, it would probably make economic sense. However, like many social programs, those who can afford market care will also want this benefit and the sytem quickly gets overwhelmed where the initial economic benefits are lost.

This is what happened when the 1990's Harcourt led NDP eased up on welfare access requirements and soon found 10% of the province on welfare.
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Pam Preston
It is in the best interest of our society at large to invest in quality care and learning for its youngest citizens. We all benefit when these early investments are made in a civil society. Children are our future and by failing to provide all children with these supports there will be losses for us all. Whether you have children or not makes no difference. We all live in this society and we will do right to invest in it.
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old stye canada
I am so sick of parents farming off their kids to daycare, shame on you! I hope your children return the favour when your old and drop you off when your vulnerable and go on their merry way.
Raise your own kids and make some sacrifices. Everybody wants new cars, trips and more toys. I did not get maternity money when I had kids. I saved up before I had kids, can you imagine, "I took financial responsibility for my own family, thats a novel idea isn't it. its not the governments job to pay for you! We downsized our life for five years until our kids were in school. Thats what you do, thats your job as a parent.
And to the parents that put their kids in daycare at one. You do not have a right to have a second and I don't want to support your incompetent parenting methods. At one most kids can not talk or defend themselves so you leave them vulnerable. Whats wrong with people?

With that said, I do feel single parents and low income families have a right to assistance. Daycare and healthy food should be provided to all these children without question.

The school system needs to bring back consumer eduction to students. As it appears these families don't know how to financial plan out their lives
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Morty
I see the "Don't make me pay taxes for this! Those are only for things I want!" crowd is out in full force. As usual, it's a bunch of people who think they know the cost of everything, but clearly know the value of nothing.

Daycare costs right now are a drain on the economy. We had a deal in place between Ottawa and the provinces to fund daycare, but the Conservatives reneged on it so they could off yet another tax break instead – a tax break that simply led private daycare operators to increase their fees in the name of profiteering. As a society, we can't afford to continue like this, relying overwhelmingly on the private sector to provide what, to many if not most, is an essential service. It has to be supported by tax dollars.
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e.a.f.
I love the comment regarding parents "farming off their children to daycare". People don't "farm off their children to daycare". People have to go to work to earn enough to pay rents, foods, etc. You know the basics fo life. Child care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. $10 a day sounds fine to me. Paying child care workers $25 an hr. sounds o.k. to me. Oh, and for the record I don't have children, never had, no in our family did. All career women.

Children are not a lifestyle choice. its how the majority of humans are programmed to do, have children. Propogate the species. If we don't have well adjusted children we won't be getting much from them when they become adults. No one cared about them as children, why should they care for us as seniors.

Childcare is expensive, quality day care is over the top. I worked with women who when their day care was paid for, they worked for about $100 a week. When I asked them why the continued working their response was, they needed that $100 a week to pay the mortgage on their home. They also wanted to keep their jobs so if their marriages failed or their spouses lost their jobs, or became ill the family would still have an income.

Seniors get care so why shouldn't little kids & babies. Why shouldn't it be reasonablely priced? We can build bridges, have the Os, roofs for stadiums, etc. but looking after our most precious assets, not so much in this society.

it is just a lovely idea to have tax credits for child care but first you need the money to actually pay for the child care. There in lays the "rub". If you can't afford day care, how can you go to work. If you don't make enough to pay taxes, how will the tax credit work for you, not so much. Tax credits for a lot of things work well for people who have money, not the min. wage workers.

We have seen cases where children died in unregulated child care centres. Do you actually think that is a good idea?

Paying early child hood educators a decent salary of $25 an hr. will attract decent staff with good educations. These people in turn will actually go out into the community & spend that money. People making $12 an hr barely pay for their rent, food & transport to work.

Some women work because they choose to. The majority work because they have to. To stay at home with your children today is a luxury most people can't afford if you want to be able to feed & cloth your children. With rents at $1,400 a month for a 2 bedroom apt., the cost of the HST, cost of tolls, cost of public trasnport, etc. both parents need to work outside the home to provide a decent standard of living. We have only to look at the statistics regarding children whose families can not afford to place them in organized sports.

B.C. currently has the highest individual debt ratio & has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada for 8 consecutive years. I would suggest $10 a day child care's time has come. We need to stop talking about it & put it into action.
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Marc Lalonde
Child care is a social responsibility. According to the UN, Canada spends the least in the early years (less than 0.25% of GDP) than any other industrialised nation. Even that bastion of right ring conservative policy, the World Bank, recognises investing in the early years provides a 7% to 16% annual rate of return. Quebec’s model is returning 40% of its initial investment in additional tax revenue alone. In Manitoba, they found additional spending in local communities to the tune of $1.58 for every dollar spent supporting its child care system. CUPE found that for every 2 child care jobs, an additional job was created as a spin-off. If people read the plan that ECEBC and CCCABC worked collaboratively on, with many community organisations, they would see it goes well beyond child care. Even stay at home parents benefit from a system that integrates many services that support all families. Too many children are entering school and do not have the social competence and emotional regulation they need to succeed. This is our future workforce. This is a win-win situation. Here in BC we are falling behind and have the highest rate of child poverty in the nation. Why do we keep ignoring the children in this province?

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