Lachlan Labere, Salmon Arm Observer
Salmon Arm council is favourable to the concept of $10-a-day child care, provided the city doesn’t get stuck with the tab.
On Monday, council received a presentation from Early Childhood Educators of BC executive director Emily Mlieczko, who has been visiting B.C. municipalities trying to garner endorsements of the $10 a Day Child Care Plan. The proposal would move early education from the Ministry of Children and Family Development to the Ministry of Education, and establish a high-quality affordable system of child care where parents options aren’t limited by income or lack of childcare spaces.
Early childhood educators would receive a living wage and children provided with an equal opportunity to develop and learn and not treated as an investment.
Mlieczko explained the province has all kinds of educational programs targeting pre-schoolers, yet 34 per cent of children are starting kindergarten in Salmon Arm are identified as “highly vulnerable,” indicating a lack of basic skills needed when entering the school system.
“The early years are an important place to develop those skills,” said Mlieczko. “On the other hand… there has been nothing to address the ongoing childcare crisis, and we have seen this for over 30 years.”
The program outlined by Mlieczko was applauded by Coun. Chad Eliason as a proactive and economically sensible approach. He said he would see if motions of support will be coming at this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
But other councillors balked at the funding model. Mlieczko suggested the program would cost $1.5 billion in new funding, and the potential that an endorsement from council could result in the federal and provincial governments downloading more financial responsibility’s to municipalities.
Mlieczko later told the Observer the other 27 municipalities that have endorsed the program didn’t share that concern, and she is hopeful Salmon Arm will get onboard at UBCM.
“We understand municipalities don’t have the resources to implement enough child-care spaces or having the fees reduced… But what I would hope is that this municipality and others across the province would take on this cause and this message to the provincial government and say, ‘Yes, this would really help our communities grow and will help our families prosper and move forward,’” said Mlieczko, adding anyone wanting more information can visit www.cccabc.bc.ca.