Premier says no to $10-a-day daycare demands
Premier Christy Clark said she would not bow to protesters who descended on her office Saturday, calling on British Columbia to subsidize a $10-a-day daycare plan.
While nearly 200 people demanding cheaper childcare marched to her constituency office in Vancouver, Clark told CTV News that publicly funded, $10-a-day daycare would amount to some $2-billion in taxpayer funds, and that the province doesn’t have the money to make that happen.
“We already supporting it as a province; we put hundreds of millions of dollars into subsidized daycare,” she said.
“At a time when we’re trying to balance our budget and create jobs and attract investment, it’s not something that we can afford right now.”
Clark said the government’s priorities are to keep taxes low, control government spending and balance the budget.
“That’s how we’re going to assure, more than anything else, that our kids have the bright future that we want them to have.”
But daycare subsidies are not enough as childcare costs soar in the Vancouver area, said B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union spokeswoman Stephanie Smith.
“The average cost for a two-year-old in the province is $6,000 a year but in the City of Vancouver it’s about $14,000 and as high as $20,000,” Smith said, adding daycare spots are few and far between.
“The subsidy does not work, it doesn’t create spaces, it doesn’t meet the actual cost of childcare, and it’s a bit of an embarrassing process for working parents to go and ask for financial support to pay for the fees that they so need to pay.”
Devyn Cousineau said she has two children and called childcare “anything but affordable.”
She said she pays $2,400 a month for two daycare spots.
Even though she’s still on maternity leave with her second child, Cousineau said she pays for the extra spot because daycare spaces are increasingly hard to come by.
The proposed plan would cut parents’ daycare costs to $10 per child, per day for families over a certain income level, and below that it would be free.
“The plan is well thought-out and well-budgeted,” Cousineau said.
Clark said if the economy is kept under control and the government can follow through on its plan to export liquefied natural gas, the province could net between $130 and $260 billion in royalties and taxes through a prosperity fund.
The money could be used for things like “enriching social programs, maybe child care, education, health care, a whole range of things people would like,” Clark said.
“We need to get ourselves in a position to have that debate first, and we’re not there yet.”
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Michele Brunoro