Vancouver has pledged more than 1,000 new childcare spots, but they won’t be in operation until 2021.
The city said it has hit its target of creating more than 1,000 new childcare spots in the city from 2015 to 2018. Of the 1,064 committed spots, just 374 are currently in operation.
The remaining spaces are in various stages of development, with the bulk expected to be open by 2021.
“Childcare is a key part of affordability. For families with small kids, it’s a large expense especially when it is in short supply and pricey,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We are seeing young people move into Vancouver faster than any other city in Canada.”
The city of Vancouver set aside $30 million in the last capital plan for childcare spaces, an investment 10 times the amount that was put aside in 2008. But Robertson told reporters on Tuesday that the 1,000 spots should have been built much sooner and were held up because of the previous provincial government’s lack of investment in childcare spaces in the city.
“There have been many years of vigorous advocacy from the community to get more investment,” said Robertson. “It is part of the reason the NDP government and Greens were elected. They were very strong on childcare.”
WATCH HERE: City of Vancouver creates more than 1,000 new childcare spaces
The city has used partnerships with the Vancouver School Board, the province, property developers and the federal government to finance the childcare spaces.
The provincial government has funded a $1-billion program over three years that will cut daycare costs by up to $350 a month for each child, depending on how old they are and whether they are in a licensed family or group daycare. The funding goes to the childcare and the savings are passed on to parents.
The program is on top of a budgeted $27 million for the 2018/2019 fiscal year to create 22,000 new childcare spaces in the province.
Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen said she has been hearing from parents that the current shortage of affordable childcare spots has had a dramatic impact on their lives.
On Tuesday, Chen told the story of one parent who could only find childcare in Vancouver, but lives in Burnaby and works in Richmond.
“She travels from the east side of Burnaby to Vancouver and then takes at least another 30 to 40 minutes extra to get to Richmond for work and then she goes back the same way,” said Chen.
“If you just think of the amount of time this mother has spent in traffic and the amount of time she has worried about being late, you will know how important it is to invest in childcare.”