Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Universal child care good for families, and society

I’m pleased that the province is stepping in to start providing $10-per-day childcare spaces

I’ve not, to date anyway, been fortunate enough to become a parent.

There are a lot of responsibilities that go with the role and I’ve learned through a lifetime of observation that parenthood is certainly not a nine-to-five job, to say the least.

I’ve heard many tales from parents who are my friends and colleagues, including two young parents of two toddlers that work in the Citizen’s newsroom, that have led me to understand that expecting eight hours of sleep a night is but a dream for them.

But on top of the constant turmoil in parents’ daily lives after their children are born, there are also heavy expenses that having youngsters can incur; including expensive clothes they grow out of every few months, endless supplies of diapers, food and, of course, the costs of day care.

I’ve known parents who barely make above the minimum wage who have had to fork over about $1,200 a month to have just one child spend eight hours a day in a day care.

That’s about the monthly cost of a mortgage or rent for many young families starting out, which is typically the largest single bill they are responsible for covering every 30 days or so.

That’s a big drain on many families’ budgets, and I’ve known lots of parents who have had to cut numerous extras and even essential purchases from their spending to make ends meet.

Mind you, I don’t blame the day cares for having to charge what is necessary to cover their own overhead costs, including paying for staff and rent or mortgage on the building where the day care is housed.

That’s why I’m pleased that the province is stepping in to start providing $10-per-day childcare spaces in many places across B.C.

It was an election promise that I was doubtful that the NDP government would actually put in place when they came to office.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates a $10-a-day universal child-care program for B.C. would cost $1.5 billion a year.

But the left-leaning think tank argues the cost would largely be made up through increased tax revenues as more women enter and remain in the workforce.

I hope they are correct and the pilot program that was recently announced takes off and these spaces are made readily available throughout B.C.

In the Cowichan Valley, Parkside Academy, a not-for-profit child-care centre in Duncan, is one of 53 centres in B.C. that has been chosen by the province as a Universal Child Care Prototype Site.

One local family has seen their monthly daycare fees dramatically reduced, from paying a rate of $925 to just $200 per month, as a result.

Kelly Hall and Xituluq Hwitsum, parents of two-year-old Chase who attends Parkside Academy, said Parkside had already been able to give them peace of mind while being away from their son throughout the day so they can attend work, and the reduced costs are a big bonus.

“As parents, having our monthly fees dramatically reduced has been an incredible incentive which has enabled us to be able to afford quality child care for Chase to receive the best possible start (in life),” they said.

Children are our greatest resource and I’m glad to see that the government recognizes that subsidizing these child-care spaces is good for families, and the province as a whole.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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