Times have changed since 1970 when the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada first recommended a national daycare act! Families today know that high-quality child care provides them – and their communities – with social and economic benefits. They need access to affordable, inclusive programs more than ever before.
Today the measure of success on child care is $10aDay – that is what families want and what governments have committed to. But how did we get here ... and what’s next?
Our Evolving Vision for Child Care
In 2011 the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC partnered to develop the $10aDay Child Care Plan, a detailed public policy blueprint that built on a cost benefit analysis carried out at UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership with Generation Squeeze.
Collectively, we developed and continue to evolve a vision of childcare informed by research, evidence and lived expertise with a concrete plan for governments to build a system that:
- respects Indigenous rights and jurisdiction, and advances reconciliation;
- reduces parent fees to no more than $10aDay, with no fees for low-income families;
- creates new non-profit, public, and Indigenous programs to meet the diverse needs of families who choose child care; and
- ensures fair compensation and working conditions for Early Childhood Educators to reflect their qualifications and the value of their work.
The Launch of ChildCareBC
In 2018, after years of advocacy, an ever-worsening child care crisis, and family affordability concerns, a new BC government that campaigned on $10aDay child care, launched ChildCareBC. A comprehensive range of unprecedented new investments were introduced, the most successful of which has been the transition of existing programs to maximum $10aDay fees ($200/month). By early 2023, about 10% of all licensed spaces in BC (12,500) will be $10aDay spaces. Feedback from families and independent analysis consistently describe $10aDay as “life-changing.”
Families with young children in licensed child care who are not yet enrolled in a $10aDay program are also benefiting from new federal funding under the Canada-wide agreements with provinces and territories. As an interim measure on the way to $10aDay, the publicly funded fee reduction for families in BC with a child in centre-based care is $900/month for infants and toddlers, and $545/month for 3- to 5-year-olds. There are similar reductions in licensed family and multi-age care programs.
But reducing fees isn’t the only progress being made or the only urgent child care issue for governments to address.
Child Care Space
Too many families are still struggling to find a child care space – affordable or not. So, it’s good news that 30,000 more child care spaces are committed by 2026 and capital funding is available to expand non-profit, public, and Indigenous child care programs.
We recommend a planned approach, with child care included in all schools and public buildings and the use of custom-designed modular buildings on public land to accelerate the creation of new programs across the province.
The biggest child care challenge, in BC and across Canada, remains the recruitment and retention of qualified early childhood educators to sustain existing programs and staff the growing system. The BC government is now providing a welcome $4/hour wage enhancement to Early Childhood Educators working in licensed child care programs and has committed to developing a provincial wage grid. Evidence consistently points to the importance of an equitable, province-wide wage grid, with comprehensive benefits and improved working conditions for professionals in the sector.
Finally, in 2023 we see federal legislation proposing to enshrine the vision of $10aDay across Canada. We applaud the federal government’s commitment to upholding Indigenous rights and jurisdiction in the legislation. We’re also glad to see federal funds will continue to prioritize expansion of non-profit, public, and Indigenous programs. Taxpayer funds should be invested in a public system of caring for children, not one that uses public dollars to create private assets.
BC is making meaningful and measurable progress on child care system-building, but advocates and governments have more work ahead to fully achieve the $10aDay vision by 2028 as planned. The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC will continue to listen and learn as we develop and advance concrete proposals that move child care from the failed, colonial approach to one that serves all our children, families, and communities. As this new child care system is created, we hold all levels of government accountable to ensure it is high quality, inclusive, culturally safe, and consistent with their commitments to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.