The B.C. Liberals are claiming that the B.C. government’s child care plan will lead to providers shutting down and reducing the number of available spaces.
Liberal child care critic Laurie Throness sent out a 29 question survey to all licensed child care providers in the province, asking them for their thoughts on the provincial government’s changes to child care. Throness says that 39 per cent of providers responded to the survey, and around a quarter said they would close their businesses.
Based on the Liberals’ findings, that would mean 8,138 child care spaces would be lost.
“About 24 per cent of people said they planned to leave early, which mirrors to me what I have heard anecdotally,” Throness said.”We thought 8,100 was a lowball because only 40 per cent responded. There will be others that are going to leave.”
The provincial government has made substantial investment in child care and has overhauled the way care facilities receive government support, announcing the Child Care BC program in February. The program includes a monthly child care benefit of up to $1,250 per child.
The second component is a subsidy for licensed child care facilities — who opt in — that is to be passed onto parents. That program will provide up to $350 per month for infants and toddlers in group care, and up to $200 per year for those in family care. Kids aged three to five will be eligible for up to $100 per month for group care and $60 per month for family care.
“Our plan will create more spaces. Last week we announced our plan to invest $221 million over three years, specifically earmarked to create 22,000 spaces,” said Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen in a statement. “In addition, we are working on a plan to increase the number of child care workers to ensure the new spaces are staffed. We know that wages for the child care sector are a major issue, and I can assure you that we are working on it and more details will be available in the coming months.”
The B.C. Liberal survey also found child care providers were unhappy with the way the subsidy program was rolled out. Throness says that of the respondents claiming to have opted into the new plan, 49 per cent felt it was “coercive.”
“What’s more, 52 per cent of respondents say they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the level of consultation before the plan was announced,” said Throness. “These figures provide further evidence that the NDP has rushed and bungled this child care initiative, to the detriment of operators and the families they serve throughout British Columbia.”
Under the BC Liberal government, the province spent $26.5 million to create 4,300 childcare spaces between 2014 and June of 2017, with the previous Child Care Major Capital Funding Program.
As part of the current plan, child care providers were required to opt in and sign a contract requiring them to freeze rates for parents. Even after reviewing the findings from the Liberals’ survey, the government says it is pleased with how the new program is being implemented.
“While I can’t comment on the specifics or reliability of a survey without seeing the questions or methods used, I can say that we’ve received positive feedback from providers across the province,” said Chen. “I hear every day from childcare providers who are happy to pass on savings to parents and are excited about the bright future for childcare and children in our province.”
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