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BC Government Reaffirms Discriminatory Child Care Policy

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For immediate release from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada

February 8, 2022

BC Government Reaffirms Discriminatory Child Care Policy

Earlier today in the government’s annual Speech from the Throne, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia reiterated the government’s plan to create new licensed child care spaces and reduce the daily cost of licensed child care, with the goal of creating a universal system of $10-a-day child care by 2026. This goal was articulated in the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement negotiated by the provincial and federal governments this past summer.

“This approach to family policy discriminates against families who choose not to use licensed child care,” says Levi Minderhoud, ARPA Canada’s British Columbia Manager. “The provincial government has its eyes narrowly focused on subsidizing and expanding licensed child care, yet child care comes in all shapes and sizes. Fundamentally, child care is the care of the child, regardless of who does it.”

Pre-pandemic, approximately 43% of children aged 0-5 in Canada were cared for by their own parents and 13% of young children were cared for by another relative. Only 41% of young children were cared for in licensed daycares, preschools, before or after school programs, and family child care homes, and the percentage of young children in licensed child care has decreased through the pandemic. Thus, the provincial government’s child care policy at best serves only 41% of children and gives no assistance to the majority of families.

“The government’s current approach to child care is less about reducing the cost or increasing the availability of child care for the good of families and more about incentivizing mothers to join the paid labour force,” says Anna Nienhuis, a policy analyst with ARPA Canada. “This approach implies that the work mothers do at home is less valuable than paid employment outside the home. It encourages mothers to view their children as an obstacle to paid employment, instead of as a blessing and responsibility in their own right.”

Although one of the government’s main objectives in subsidizing licensed child care is to make life more affordable for families, care policy should not be framed exclusively in financial terms. “The province’s current child care policy undermines the integrity of the family and the formation of the next generation,” says Minderhoud. “Universal daycare may benefit GDP figures in the short-term by attracting more mothers into the paid labour force, but it undermines the basic integrity of families. Strong, stable families provide the bedrock needed for a healthy, flourishing society in the long-term.”

“A child care policy that would financially benefit almost all families and strengthen the family unit would be increasing the BC Child Opportunity Benefit,” says Minderhoud. “This benefit is a cash transfer to families based on household income. Parents can use this money to pay for licensed daycare, pay a friend or relative to care for their young children, or enable a parent to spend more time caring for their young children themselves. The choice would be up to them. This policy is far more equitable because it helps all families directly rather than funding just some daycare spots.”

“To its credit, the provincial government enhanced child benefits by creating the new BC Child Opportunity Benefit in 2019,” confirms Nienhuis. “This policy supports choice in child care and minimizes government involvement in the decisions of families. We strongly encourage the provincial government to shift its child funding away from a universal $10-a-day, government-licensed system that benefits a minority of families and work instead to expand the existing child benefits that help all families.”

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For further comment, Levi Minderhoud can be reached at 604-615-4453 or at [email protected].

The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada is a Christian political advocacy organization with a mission to equip, encourage, and engage Christians in the public square.

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