Affordable daycare left out of NDP budget disappoints advocate

B.C. parents left unsure if $10-a-day childcare will be an empty promise

Parents and caregivers who voted for the B.C. NDP because of its $10-a-day childcare promise are disappointed the plan wasn’t part of Monday’s provincial budget update, one advocate says.

The NDP has delivered on major campaign pledges, like nixing bridge tolls and slashing MSP fees, since John Horgan was sworn in as premier in July.

But affordable childcare advocate Sharon Gregson said supporters are shocked the budget failed to address the province’s “childcare chaos,” considering it was one of its biggest platform commitments. Parents would have spent $10 per day for full-time care, $7 for part-time and no fee for families with an annual income under $40,000.

“People are asking me if it’s really going to happen,” Gregson said Tuesday. “People thought they were voting for the $10-a-day plan,”

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The budget instead contained $20 million for 4,100 new childcare spaces, which was actually part of the previous Liberal government’s budget announcement earlier in the summer.

Gregson those new spaces will still be unaffordable and won’t be enough to meet the need.

“It’s not a matter of dollars anymore,” she said. “We have no doubt about the personal commitment of the politicians… They need to take that commitment and turn it into public policy.”

In her presentation on Monday, Finance Minister Carole James said the childcare reform fell through because of a lack of consensus between her party and the Greens. Her government will continue consultations on the issue into February.

Gregson said that isn’t needed when roughly 17,000 people have signed a petition so far supporting the $10-a-day plan.

She added there’s nothing stopping unlicensed daycares from setting up shop in the meantime.

“There are parents right now who are waiting for their parental leave to be over, and madly looking for childcare spaces, on eight waiting lists and know they can’t afford $1,500 a month.”

Under the BC Liberal policy, which is still in effect, the province covers about 15 per cent of licensed daycare operating costs through subsidies, and helps qualified low-income parents with the costs of care.

Katrina Chen, minister of state of child care, has not returned a request for comment.

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