The BC Liberals committed to an ambitious child-care plan on Friday, mirroring promises made by the incumbent BC NDP.
With two weeks to go until voting day, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said he would implement a $1-billion plan to make $10-a-day child care a reality for families earning up to $65,000 a a year.
The plan includes $20-a-day care for families earning up to $90,000 a year, and $30 a day for those taking home up to $125,000.
Wilkinson also promised to create a voluntary online process for parents to apply for public child-care spaces. Parents will be able to reject an invitation for an available space if desired and wait for the next one.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit low-income families harder than most, which is why $10-a-day child care is needed now,” he said.
Under the previous BC Liberal government, many parents in Metro Vancouver struggling with rising child-care costs and months-long waiting lists for spaces. In a last-ditch plea to hold onto power, Clark promised just after the 2017 election to vastly increase child-care funding.
Wilkinson’s plan also includes expanding access to before-and-after-school care, creating incentives for employers to better support child-care options, and increasing training and support for child-care workers.
The party would also replace the Minister of State for Child Care with a full Ministry of Child Care to manage licensing, funding and oversight.
New Democrat Katrina Chen, the incumbent minister of state for child care, told reporters following Wilkinson’s announcement that he and his colleagues voted against a 2018 budget that aimed to invest more than $1 billion over three years in child care, including an affordable child-care benefit.
“For 16 years, the BC Liberals did nothing to make child care more affordable. Andrew Wilkinson and Laurie Throness have voted against and attacked our child care investments every step of the way,” Chen said.
“Wilkinson’s record shows that he can’t be trusted not to cancel our investments and drive up the cost of child care. He is a risk parents can’t can’t afford.”
The BC NDP’s child-care election promises include bringing $10-a-day care to more families. Currently, 32,700 families are paying that amount or less.
The party has almost committed to more spaces through a new capital program and to provide universal access to before- and after-school care.
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