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B.C. budget expands $10-a-day childcare, boosts pay for early childhood educators

Click to play video: 'B.C. Government unveils 2021 budget' B.C. Government unveils 2021 budget
B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson has rolled out the government's 2021 budget, with a significant focus on post-pandemic recovery spending. Richard Zussman has the details. – Apr 20, 2021

The B.C. government is doubling the number of spaces available under its $10-a-day childcare pilot program.

The NDP government’s 2021 budget sees childcare spending climb by $233 million over three years.

Read more: Will $10-a-day child care bring more women back to work?

Of that funding, $111 million will go to the $10-a-day program, adding 3,750 spaces in 75 additional childcare centres to the ChildcareBC Universal Prototype Sites.

It comes a day after the federal Liberals announced $30 billion over five years to create a national childcare program with $10 a day spaces in their own budget.

The province is also hoping to bolster the childcare workforce by doubling the wage subsidy for early childhood educators to $4 per hour. It says that top up will help raise the median wage of an ECE to just under $25 per hour.

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Click to play video: '2021 Budget: Ottawa promises billions in new child-care spending' 2021 Budget: Ottawa promises billions in new child-care spending
2021 Budget: Ottawa promises billions in new child-care spending – Apr 20, 2021

That move will cost the province about $94 million.

Paul Kershaw, founder of Generation Squeeze and associate professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, said while the initiatives were welcome, they fell short of the $750 million per year the NDP government promised last fall.

“Sure, the NDP has improved childcare substantially by comparison with the previous government,” he said.

“But this big gap between the NDP’s election promise and its actual investments will mean too many BC families continue to be squeezed financially because childcare costs another rent — or mortgage-sized payment on top of skyrocketing home prices.”

Read more: B.C. budget sets aside nearly $6 billion for COVID support, forecasts $8.1-billion deficit

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The 2021 budget also expands the Seamless Day Pilot, which integrates the delivery of childcare into school districts by delivering care on school grounds.

That program will be expanded to 20 additional school districts from the current four.

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