NDP day care announcement will help strengthen B.C.’s social, economic fabric, says HEU

By 2004, fees for licensed day care will be reduced to $14 a day

The Hospital Employees’ Union says the Jan. 8 announcement by social development minister Mike Farnworth of $350 million in funding to expand the NDP’s day care strategy and significantly reduce child care costs for tens of thousands of parents is a positive move that will help strengthen B.C.’s social and economic fabric.

“This expanded program will be a real benefit for our members and for families right across B.C.,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “And the increase of licensed day care spaces means it will be easier for parents to overcome the challenge of finding high quality, affordable care for their kids.”

Given that parents’ challenges in finding accessible, affordable child care also spill over into the workplace, today’s announcement will also benefit B.C. employers, he said.

On Jan. 1 this year parent fees for licensed before and after school care programs have already been reduced to $7 per day, a savings of up to $1,100 per child. Under the plan, additional fee reductions will be phased in:

  • Jan. 1, 2002 fees will be reduced to $14 per day for infants and toddlers in licensed day care centres, a savings of up to $6,000 per year for each child. In addition, fees for before and after school care fees for care in licensed family (in home) care settings will be reduced to $7 a day;
  • Sept. 1, 2002 fees will be reduced to $14 per day for infants and toddlers in licensed family care settings;
  • Between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2004 fees will be reduced to $14 per day for three to five- year-olds in licensed day care centres, and for school-aged children during summer holidays. 

Another element in the government’s strategy is an increase in the number of licensed child care spaces from the current 67,000 spaces to 85,000 spaces in four years.

Allnutt says that the new NDP initiative means that Premier Dosanjh and his government are squarely ahead of any jurisdiction in North America when it comes to progressive action on child care.

“We also appreciate that government recognizes that there’s still more to be done to improve the pay and working conditions for day care workers,” Allnutt says. “Mostly women, day care workers provide important services, but work in a low wage ghetto.”

About 40,000 of HEU’s 46,000 members are women, and the union represents day care workers at child care centres at a number of B.C. hospitals.