The B.C. government is moving to ban waitlist fees for the province’s daycares.
Starting in April, the ban will apply to licensed child-care facilities that are a part of the province’s fee-reduction initiative.
“One thing we want to make sure of is that parents aren’t facing additional fees,” Minister of State for Childcare Grace Lore told Global News. “We know that is costing parents in some cases hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars … that’s the expectation we are setting with providers.”
Lore said the change will apply to more than 95 per cent of daycares in the province.
Alisha Neumann who operates Inquiring Little Minds childcare on Vancouver Island said the move will hurt her business’s bottom line.
The company started charging fees due to the cost of managing its waitlist, she said, which includes dealing with between 20 and 30 calls a day from parents looking for child care.
Combined with the province’s excising cap on fees, the move will force operators to look elsewhere to find revenue to cover admin costs.
“They opened themselves up to us looking for other ways we could get revenue,” she said. “If they are not going to work with us to sort out how much revenue we have coming in, we’re going to have to find places for it.”
Sharon Gregson, provincial spokesperson for the $10/Day Child Care Campaign, called the move “long overdue.” She said an estimated three-quarters of kids in in the province aged 12 and under don’t have access to childcare — and a full quarter of those families are on waiting lists. That’s a huge financial burden, she said, that comes with no guarantee of actually getting a daycare space.
“There is some concern that extra fees are being approved for food and field trips and things like that, so we do want to make sure parents aren’t being taken advantage of in other ways, and that the ministry is clear about what are acceptable extra fees,” Gregson said.
She said the move also need to come with more government support to ensure good wages for early childhood educators, and to expand the system itself to cut waitlist backlogs.
“Just as we expect that in our public elementary schools we also expect that in our childcare programs,” she said.
Lore said the province is providing an additional $2/hour wage top up for early childhood educators starting in January. She added that provincial regulations bar daycare operators from tacking new fees on for services they already provide.