Those attending the library’s Idea Exchange, co-sponsored by the Canadian Federation of University Women, and presented by Sharon Gregson, spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C., and Lynne Reside, North Okanagan Early Years co-ordinator, heard an eye-opening talk on the seriousness of the child care crisis.
The mystifying thing is why our governments are slow to react when an economically feasible plan has been formulated and all of the other developing countries are reaping the benefits of supporting early learning and care. It is a most embarrassing position for Canada to be in. Even the UN is pointing a finger at us for not having a plan in place to look after our most vulnerable, that is our children.
The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. is urging the government to support a $10 a day child care plan. That is, parents pay $10 per child a day and the government picks up the costs for implementing and constructing regulated child care facilities. This would be a cheaper program for child care than the government’s proposed methods.
The talk emphasized how critical the first five years of life are for social, intellectual, emotional, and physical development. This is when the foundation is set and, to make a change later, is costly and difficult. These enhancements to growth have proven to last throughout the school years and into later life and studies show that those who experience quality child care obtain higher job positions in the work force and hence larger salaries and have less run- ins with the penal system.
The situation in B.C. is especially critical as we have the highest child poverty rate in Canada, and the cost to parents for child care is second only to paying for a house.
The scary thing is that we only have space for 18 per cent of our children in regulated child care. The B.C. government is trying to mollify us by offering 2,000 more child care spaces when we really need 15,000 more regulated spaces by 2016. When 75 per cent of women with children work, who is going to look after the children during their formative years?
Many of the remaining 25 per cent of mothers are not working, either because of exorbitant child care costs or lack of available child care space.
Quebec implemented a $7.30 a day plan and they experienced 70,000 more women entering the work force. The government would save money on the higher tax revenues and lower spending primarily associated with increased workforce participation of mothers. For every $1 the government spends on early child care and learning, it gets back $7 in return.
Businesses benefit with more motivated workers, less absenteeism, and less turnover and hence, are more productive when their workers have a reliable quality place to take their children.
By not adopting the $10 a day plan, it has been calculated by the University of B.C. that the B.C. business community is losing $600 million per year.
We have to let our representatives know that we believe in putting more emphasis on universal accessible, quality, affordable child care, learning centres so all children have the same advantage, not just the affluent ones. Care and learning must be married since they are essential to each other. Business should not be running these centres and making a profit. Children are our most valuable resource. They are our future. Society and the economy benefit when they benefit.
For more information, go to www.cccabc.bc.ca. Concerned citizens of B.C. should urge the business community and educators at all levels to endorse the $10 a day child care plan as proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates and the Early Childhood Educators of B.C.
Barbara Van Sickle,