2021 Budget Submission

Submission to Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services $10aDay Child Care Recommendations for BC Budget 2021(1)

June 26, 2020 Written Submission

As we come out of COVID19– what I see as one of the bright spots is that uniformly across the economy people understand now and recognize the importance of child care to a robust economy that includes everybody

Premier John Horgan, May 20, 2020(2)

We couldn’t agree more! The thousands of families, early childhood educators, employers and communities who support the $10aDay Child Care Plan have always known that child care is an essential service. Now, as the Premier says, everyone gets it.

The social and economic returns on high quality, affordable child care for all who choose it have been well established in BC, Canada and internationally. The lessons learned during the pandemic only make the need for action more urgent.

Bold, accelerated investment in the $10aDay Child Care Plan is essential if BC is to forge a just recovery.

Thousands of families have lost their jobs and income. They face more financial hardship than ever. A sustainable economic recovery relies on their ability to regain their earning power, rebuild confidence in their future and support their local economy. But, before parents with young children can return to work, they need access to affordable child care programs that meet diverse needs, are culturally relevant, and offer non-traditional hours of care for shift and part- time workers.

Women have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Their decisions about whether it makes economic sense to return to work will likely rest on the cost and availability of child care. Economist Armine Yalnizyan summarizes this reality by noting “there can be no recovery without a she-covery; ... no she-covery without child care.”(3)

Overall, multiple economic studies show that child care is one of the biggest job creators: investing $1 million in child care creates almost 40 jobs. A 2017 socioeconomic analysis of $10aDay Child Care confirmed that the Plan’s projected employment multipliers “are well above the benefits the province conventionally expects to receive from other investments.”4 It follows that a key element of new green infrastructure investments must include ‘shovel-worthy’ child care construction projects in communities across BC. Many such projects have already been identified by public sector partners through the Union of BC Municipalities Community Child Care Planning Program.

While the BC government has made historic investments in child care, they have not yet taken the steps required to move child care from a fragmented, market-based approach to a system that is not only publicly funded but also publicly managed. While public systems like schools were able to respond to the pandemic crisis with clear provincial policy and decision-making, child care services in BC experienced inconsistent, uncoordinated communications from government that left much open to the interpretation and decision-making of individual providers.

Therefore, we urgently call for the Child Care Branch to move promptly to the Ministry of Education, where there is expertise and experience in the systemic public policy and funding approaches required to prioritize three child care actions essential to BC’s recovery plan:

  1. Move NOW to $10aDay child care. Effective July 1, 2020, government should begin funding the transition of existing and willing child care programs to $10aDay sites where parents pay a maximum of $10/day. This funding model is consistent with other public services that British Columbians rely on, like schools and hospitals. The priority should be child care programs located in facilities that are already publicly-owned, such as schools and community centres. This ensures that new public funding goes directly to lower parent fees and raise educator wages rather than to leasing or mortgage costs for privately-owned facilities.
  2. Implement a competitive provincial wide wage grid for early childhood educators. The recruitment and retention crisis that existed in the child care sector pre-pandemic is already predicted to be far worse post- pandemic due to low wages. Even with the BC government’s recent wage enhancements, median wages are only about $20/hour. Implementing a competitive provincial wage grid that starts at $20 - $29/hour (depending on qualifications) is the vehicle to ensure BC has the educators needed to not only reopen existing child care programs but to expand to meet demand as universal child care unfolds across BC.
  3. Expand public child care spaces through infrastructure investments. Moving to $10aDay in existing programs will help many families, but there remains a chronic shortage of child care spaces. The immediate goal for new spaces should be a school-age child care program in every BC elementary school and modular child care facilities on the grounds of every BC hospital and post-secondary institution, with each new facility opening their doors as a $10aDay program. This will require a dedicated child care capital budget - an outstanding recommendation of the $10aDay Plan, as detailed in our Capital Expansion Briefing Note.

With these 3 actions, the benefits of $10aDay child care for families and educators will be life changing - as they are for families in the existing 50 prototype $10aDay sites across BC.

In the 2017 provincial election, BC’s government made a commitment to the goals of the $10aDay Plan. Now is the time to deliver on the $10aDay promise.

(1) The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC is a feminist, membership-based organization comprised of parents, grandparents, child care providers, community organizations, academics and unions. Through research, public education and mobilization, we work collectively to achieve a high-quality, affordable, accessible child care system that serves the public interest. We do not receive funding from the Province of BC.

With the Early Childhood Educators of BC, we developed the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning - grounded in research and evidence, informed by policy lessons from other jurisdictions, strengthened through ongoing consultation province-wide and popularly known as the $10aDay Child Care Plan.

(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2Vt_tYZMds

(3) https://atkinsonfoundation.ca/atkinson-fellows/posts/no-recovery-without-a-she-covery/

(4) Fairholm, R., & Anderson, L. 2017. Socio-Economic Impact Analysis of the $10aDay Child Care Plan for British Columbia, p. 5.