The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is urging the province to make child care a top priority in next year’s budget.
On Tuesday, June 2, the chamber presented to B.C.’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, which is responsible for conducting consultations on the 2021 provincial budget.
The chamber submitted a recent City of Vernon child care action plan, which calls for faster implementation of the $10 a day child care plan. The submission also called for increases in capital funding to create new licensed spaces, and added support for those training as early childhood educators.
“We thank the members of the Select Standing Committee for providing the chamber an opportunity to highlight what we believe are essential building blocks for a vibrant economy and resilient communities, particularly as we move through Covid-19 recovery,” said Krystin Kempton, the chamber’s president.
The chamber told the committee that allocating funds to increase childcare spaces will in turn support the local economy.
“We frequently hear from our members that attraction and retention of employees is challenging because of the lack of child care, and this ultimately has a significant impact on employers’ ability to operate and contribute fully to the economy,” said Robin Cardew, chair of the chamber’s advocacy committee.
The chamber also addressed issues related to mental health and substance abuse, with a focus on prolific offenders. On this front, the chamber requested more funding for treating offenders in incarceration post-release housing with support programs, local residential treatment for low-income residents and reimbursement for those seeking private addiction treatment.
“Treatment and housing enhances safety for high-risk individuals, communities and businesses, and the ultimate goal is to provide individuals with the assistance they need to become full partners in society,” said Cardew.
The Select Standing Committee is expected to present its 2021 budget report to the legislature in August.
Meanwhile, the chamber has also put out a call for its 2020-21 volunteer board of directors. Those interested who have established leadership and advocacy experience are asked to submit their nomination package until 4 p.m. Friday, June 12.
“Directors are accountable to the membership and are responsible for governing and overseeing the strategic direction of the chamber,” Kempton said.
Nominees must be chamber members (or representatives of chamber members) for a minimum of two years and must be endorsed by one other chamber member. The package can be found at vernonchamber.ca/nomination-form.