"With this important step forward, we expect to see other provinces and territories coming to the table to negotiate strong deals that lay the groundwork for a universally accessible, publicly funded and publicly managed, high-quality child care system that fairly compensates and supports the workforce." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (12 July 2021) — The B.C. government and the federal government have reached a deal on the new federal funds for child care announced in Budget 2021.
The deal, the first one reached in the ongoing federal-provincial-territorial negotiations to allocate the new federal funds, represents an important first step in building a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care.
Moving towards $10 a day
The headline announcement was that the funds will help the province reach an average of $10-a-day child care in regulated spaces for children under 6 by 2027 (Global News). B.C. child care advocates have long been calling for $10-a-day child care.
The funds will also support the creation of 30,000 new spaces within 5 years. It appears that this expansion will be in public and non-profit child care, according to Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement.
“This announcement is encouraging,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “But, as we said to the initial commitments made in Budget 2021, the devil is in the details.”
“We will be closely watching as those details emerge, such as which supports and strategies will be used to address workforce issues — something that is essential to ensuring a high-quality system.”
What it means for families, workers
The B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) observed that the acceleration towards $10-a-day child care is “great news for working families,” but also emphasized the need to “support educators that are the heart of a quality child care system.”
The announcement includes the establishment of a provincial wage grid, something that labour and child care advocates in B.C. have long been calling for. This would be a crucial development, but it remains to be seen what other supports are coming for the workforce.
Other provinces must follow suit
Canada’s child care advocacy association, Child Care Now, has developed a Roadmap to Affordable Child Care based on its Affordable Child Care for All plan, which NUPGE has endorsed. Advocates within provinces, like the newly formed Child Care Now Nova Scotia, have also provided clear recommendations to their governments.
“The evidence has long been clear, and these roadmaps exist,” continued Brown. “What the B.C.-Canada deal signals is that governments are finally listening to what workers, families, experts, and advocates are saying.”
“With this important step forward, we expect to see other provinces and territories coming to the table to negotiate strong deals that lay the groundwork for a universally accessible, publicly funded and publicly managed, high-quality child care system that fairly compensates and supports the workforce.”