On January 5, 2007 BC’s Minister of State for Child Care released a letter to the child care community announcing her Ministry’s response to the formal end of BC’s Early Learning and ChildCare Agreement with the Federal Government. The Federal Government have chosen to end this agreement with each of the Provinces and Territories effective March 31, 2007 and instead offer the Universal Child Care Plan.
In the days that have passed since the Minister’s letter was first released it seems that the child care community in BC has been turned upside down. The cuts that have been announced will have SIGNIFICANT impacts on all child care programs and services throughout the Province. Child care providers (Family and group) are being faced with very challenging questions. Raise fees? Lose staff? Reduce staff wages? Close the doors? The reality is that in BC, as in other areas of the Country, our child care programs have a difficult time sustaining themselves while still being reasonably affordable for families. Programs like the Child Care Operating Funding Program go a long way toward making the fees more affordable while also helping to pay child care providers and Early Childhood Educators better wages. Any amount of reduction to this program will have a dramatic impact on the already fragile system. Further, programs such as the Child Care Resource and Referral services that support child care providers throughout the Province and help parents to find child care in their community appear to be being reduced to the point of total elimination. The CCRR’s are one of the key networks that help both child care providers and parents. In my mind they do a lot to enhance the quality of child care we have available in BC. If they are eliminated, I fear what it will mean for the future of child care in our Province.
So I am, like so many people in BC and in Canada, shaking my head. I just don’t get it.
- I don’t get how paying parents $100 per month for each child under six years will help solve our child care problem in this Country. Hmmm, that doesn’t even begin to cover the deposit that most people have to pay just to try and secure a space for their child.
- I don’t get how BC didn’t take more of a stand against the Federal Government when the Early Learning and Child Care Agreements were being dismantled.
- I don’t get how Minister Reid (or the BC Government) can make the kind of cuts they have to child care when we have such a strong economy in our Province.
- I don’t get how creating up to 25,000 new child care spaces per year in Canada beginning in 2007(under the Universal Child Care Program) will really happen when the system can’t afford to sustain the spaces and parents can hardly afford to pay for them.
- I don’t get how parents are going to afford what may be an average fee increase of $50 – $75 per child per month in child care programs. This is the average amount that child care providers in BC are indicating that fees will need to go up to address the funding shortfall they will experience when the funding cuts happen.
Of course, like many others, I will let it be known that none of this makes any sense for child care, for families or for children. However, also like so many others, I will still be left shaking my head – wondering what the “powers that be” could possibly have been thinking in Victoria and Ottawa.
Sorry, but I just don’t get it.