Province testing $10-a-day child care at select centres
British Columbia's government has quietly begun testing its long-promised $10-a-day child care program at select daycare centres, CTV News has learned.
The providers of approximately 1,800 child care spaces were chosen for an 18-month pilot project will offer a steep discount on child care services to those who already send their children there.
Jenny Jewczyk is one of the parents lucky enough to have had their daycare chosen for the pilot program.
"It is life-changing for us and for a lot of other families," she told CTV News. "It felt like we won the lottery."
In Jewczyk's case, it means the cost of part-time child care for her one-year-old has gone from $520 a month to just $80.
And with a second child on the way next month, it couldn't have come at a better time.
"It means that we can finally get ahead as opposed to, you know, at the end of the month, having the discussion around 'OK, how are we paying for daycare this month?'"
According to Sharon Gregson of Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, full-time child care prices at the prototype centres could fall to $200 a month.
"Our understanding is the intention was to have about 50 organizations across the province—50 centres participating and a couple thousand families will be benefiting," she said. "Families are in tears they're so happy."
Premier John Horgan campaigned on a pledge to bring $10-a-day child care to the province. But more than a year since he assumed office, the NDP has yet to make good on that promise despite mounting pressure from middle-income parents and those who advocate on their behalf.
The government said nearly 300 applications were reviewed for the pilot project, which is meant to test how such a model would work if implemented permanently.
"To move to a public system of child care is a big step," Gregson said, "and this is one way the government can test the model, make sure they can actually know what it costs to fund an affordable system that's high-quality and pays educators decent wage."
The province has implemented a subsidized fee-reduction initiative this year. Parents can save between $60 and $350 a month on a child care space if their daycare is licensed, applies and is approved.
The NDP has also promised to create 22,000 new child care spaces and to train more early childhood educators.
Since the late 1990s, Quebec has had a graduated child care pricing system that currently starts at $7.75 a day and goes up to $21.20 for the highest earners.
A study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in December found that parents in Montreal pay an average of $168 a month for child care, a far cry from the $1,360 paid by parents in Vancouver for the same service.
The astronomical prices are limiting the careers of parents struggling to afford child care, and ultimately, the B.C. economy, the CCPA said, adding that some parents are resorting to unlicensed daycare centres where conditions might not be up to provincial standards.
Jewczyk's daycare has asked not to be identified as the province is planning an official announcement about the pilot project in the coming days and is in the process of finalizing the last few contracts.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber