Whistler Council was unanimous in their support last week for a proposal that would shift daycare into the Ministry of Education and reduce costs to parents to $10 a day or less.
The proposal is called the “Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning,” and it’s being championed by the Coalition of Child Care Adovocates of BC and Early Childhood Educators of BC. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden attended their presentation during the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September, and immediately proposed inviting the group to present the plan to Whistler Council.
“We don’t have any jurisdiction over daycare, but it’s certainly an issue that affects so many community members and we do hear about it all the time,” she said. “(The proposal) just makes so much sense, to take daycare into the Ministry of Education rather than where it is now, and in time we can achieve all these savings and offer daycare for $10 a day. It gets women back into the workforce earlier, and solves all sort of problems for families.
“So I brought it back here to see if council would consider jumping on board with the resolution, and they did.”
The proposal includes an analysis of child care in Quebec, which started a similar program 12 years ago, offering families $7/day childcare. According to the proponents of bringing a similar system to B.C., the Quebec program now more than pays for itself through taxes paid by mothers returning to the workforce. For every dollar invested by the province, $1.05 is recouped in provincial taxes, while the federal government sees a net benefit of 44 cents.
Some 70,000 more women had joined the workforce in Quebec in the first eight years of the program, increasing provincial GDP by $5.2 billion or 1.7 per cent.
The report also looked at per capita daycare funding in Canada and B.C. as a whole, and found that just 0.25 per cent of national GDP and 0.22 per cent of provincial GDP was spent on daycare spaces. Comparatively, the percentage is closer to two per cent in countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In the U.S. it’s closer to 0.5 per cent.
The proponents say they have the support of 1.6 million British Columbians, as well as other municipal governments.
The proponents are asking for daycare for $10 a day full-time, $7 a day part-time, with no user fees for families with incomes under $40,000. They would like to see legislation backing the idea and a five-year, stable budget for implementation.
In Whistler, spaces at the Whistler Children’s Centre are at a premium — $1,220 for kids under the age of three, which works out to over $60 per day.
It can take close to two years to get a spot. The centre recommends registering the moment you become pregnant.
For more on the proposal, visit www.ccabc.bc.ca.