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B.C. adds 717 more $10-a-day child care spots across province

Click to play video: 'B.C. adds 717 new $10-a-day child care spots across province'
B.C. adds 717 new $10-a-day child care spots across province
The B.C. and federal governments have announced another 717 $10-a-day child care spots have been opened across the province. State of Child Care Minister Mitzi Dean breaks down the annual cost savings during a Feb. 9, 2024 press conference – Feb 9, 2024

The B.C. and federal governments have added another 717 child care spaces to the $10-a-day program, each expected to save parents up to $10,000 per year.

300 of the spaces have been placed at the University of British Columbia. Others have been opened elsewhere in Vancouver, as well as in Squamish, Surrey, and Houston, State of Child Care Minister Mitzi Dean said Friday.

“We all know that finding child care is difficult and paying for it is one of the biggest bills that families face, and it’s really tough times for families out there today just to be able to afford the basics,” Dean said. “We know that access to affordable child care is one of the reasons that B.C. has the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. to abolish child care waitlist fees'
B.C. to abolish child care waitlist fees

The new spaces put the B.C. government on track to have 15,000 child care spots wrapped into the $10-a-day program by the springtime. Its initial target, however, was to have 15,000 spaces in the program by the end of last year.

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In April, the province’s ban on controversial waitlist fees for licensed child care facilities that are part of its fee-reduction initiative will also take effect.

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“We know that for families in Canada, high quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive child care is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” said Vancouver Quadra MP Joyce Murray at the press conference.

“The thing I was hearing most about in my constituency on the west side of Vancouver was the absence of access to child care.”

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In December, the Centre for Family Equity and University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work released a report analyzing B.C.’s $10-a-day program. Authors said the initiative is linked to improve health and economic outcomes for low-income single others, but they had concerns about inequitable access to the limited spaces.

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The organizations interviewed 30 lone mothers, 17 of whom had $10-a-day spaces and 13 of whom did not, but in most cases, accessed other fee-reduction affordability measures. Their report found there aren’t enough spaces to meet demand, and there is no “transparent process for space allocation” as well as a “failure to prioritize allocation to those most marginalized.”

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$10 a day childcare changing lives, but unattainable for many says report

Yet it also uncovered “profound” impacts on the lives of lone mothers living below the poverty line who had access, according to co-author Vivica Ellis, executive director of the Centre for Family Equity.

Interviewed mothers who had their children enrolled were able to reduce their reliance on precarious work, sustain their lower-wage jobs, and in some cases, leave income assistance for work. They described greater access to self-care and socialization opportunities, as well as reduced fear of becoming ill or injured, the report added.

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Click to play video: 'Child care providers call for provincial funding program improvements'
Child care providers call for provincial funding program improvements

Since 2018, the province has invested $3.9 billion in its 10-year ChildCareBC plan.

It has said future expansions of the program are dependent on negotiations with the federal government.

April’s partial waitlist fee elimination speaks to one call in the December report for waitlist fees to be eliminated at all B.C. daycares. Other recommendations include the creation of up to 50,000 new publicly-funded child care spaces, the inclusion of all interested daycares in the $10-a-day initiative, and the prioritization of new $10-a-day spaces in child care “deserts.”

The report also recommends an equity-based approach to ensure the spaces are accessible to those who need them most, that they can accommodate the diverse needs of parents and children, and that a parent advisory council is established to help guide future reforms.

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