Premier John Horgan says he won’t apologize for his government’s recent efforts towards universal child care, despite some daycare operators criticizing the government rolling out reduced fees for parents.
Parents with children in licensed child care programs will be saving up to $350 a month beginning April 1, Horgan told reporters at a daycare at Douglas College Wednesday morning.
“Parents in every corner of B.C. will start seeing their child care bills go down next month,” he said, as children played behind him, Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy, and Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen.
“These fee reductions will offer families relief, and help people, particularly women, return to work. No one should be forced to choose between child care and other family needs.”
The savings break down as follows:
- $350 per month for each child in group infant and toddler care
- $200 per month for each child in family infant and toddler care
- $100 per month for each child in group care for children aged three years to kindergarten
- $60 per month for each child in family care for children aged three years to kindergarten
The fee reduction is for families with kids up to kindergarten age whose licensed child care providers opt in.
Providers who opt in, now by an extended date of April 20, will get a 10 per cent increase to their individual base funding to support operational expenses.
Daycare providers call out ‘lack of transparency’ on program roll out
The province says that 18,000 child care providers have already opted into the new program, but not all are on board with the government’s route to universal child care or how the changes were rolled out.
“It feels like we are being pitted against our daycare families,” Suzie Logan said.
Logan, who owns a daycare in Coquitlam, said in recent weeks as many as 400 operators in the province have come together for online meetings to discuss their concerns with the NDP government’s policy. And many of them are weary of opting in to a program that was only brought to their attention two weeks ago.
“I would love nothing more than to drop fees for my daycare famillies, but I can’t with no transparency,” she said.
Logan charges roughly $1,250 a month per child in her toddler program, which includes all organic vegetarian snacks, milk, bottles, wipes and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. care.
|Metro Vancouver daycare operators Nasim Khatibi (left) and Suzie Logan (right) told reporters Wednesday they aren’t interested in opting into the government’s plan for child care fee relief. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press)
For those providers who do opt in, future fee increases have to be approved by the province, Logan said. Staff wages are also a concern.
“Historically, my centre has done increases every two years by no more than four per cent, with six months notice given to families,” she said, while “bigger box daycare chains” increase fees at higher margins and more frequently.
“How is this advantageous for me, who’s been fair to parents and operating ethically for years and years – how is this fair for us? It just doesn’t seem fair for us.”
Nasim Khatibi, a fellow daycare operator of Rocky Point Montessori in Port Moody said the government’s move towards universal child care in three to five years puts all smaller operators at risk of having to shut their doors.
“We’ve given up maternity leave… pension, just to work hard so we have this at the end of the road for our retirement,” she said. “What’s going to happen to us when universal daycares roll in next door to us? How is the government going to support us small businesses? We want answers.”
Both child care operators met with Chen and Conroy following the press conference, and said the ministers will be working with them in weeks ahead.