Announcement from MCFD


On October 26, 2004, Hon Stan Hagen, Minister of Children and Family Development, announced the BC government would be spending $33 million on child care. He said that as of January 2005 this money would:

  • increase income thresholds at which families become eligible for child care subsidy
  • boost child care subsidy rates for eligible families
  • provide one time transitional funding for service providers under the operating funding program.


Responses in the media:

$33-million restored to child-care subsidy
Times Colonist (Victoria), Oct 27, 2004, Jeff Rud

A $33-million injection into B.C.’s child-care subsidy program will make 10,000 more children eligible for benefits, the province said Tuesday.

Minister of Children and Family Development Stan Hagen said the funding increase will also mean a raise in the subsidy amount received by thousands of children already in the program.

“With this $33-million boost, we’re creating a stable, sustainable child care system, and we’re doing so in a responsible, accountable way,” Hagen said in a release heralding the increase. “We’re making sure more families in need are eligible, and that they have a choice of child care providers in their communities.”

But NDP Leader Carole James, who before entering provincial politics was director of child care under the previous NDP government, said the B.C. Liberals are merely reinstating a portion of what they cut after winning office in 2001.

James said the current government slashed its child-care budget to $156 million from $198 million. Now it is using federal government early childhood transfer money to add back some of what it cut, she said.

“Obviously, any money going into child care is a positive, considering how much they’ve taken out,” James said. “But this doesn’t make up for the cuts that they’ve made in child care over the last 31/2 years.”

Ministry statistics show that 27,000 B.C. children receive child-care subsidy payments. The government provides a monthly child-care subsidy to eligible low-income families to help support them in obtaining education, training and jobs.

Hagen said beginning Jan. 1, the monthly income “threshold” for families to be eligible to receive the subsidy will be raised by $200, leaving “thousands” more families in higher income brackets eligible.

Families who have children under six in regulated care will see their subsidy increased. As well, parents’ student loans will no longer be factored into income thresholds when determining subsidy eligibility.

The monthly income threshold for parents with special needs children will also rise by an additional $100. As well, these family’s subsidies will increase to $150 from $107 a month.

“We recognize the challenge many B.C. families face in affording child care, and that’s why we’ve targeted this funding to low-income families, children with special needs and eligible parents with student loans,” Hagen said….

But James pointed out that the government’s announcement comes on the heels of an Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development report, which criticized B.C.’s child-care setup.

“I find it interesting that child care is now a priority when we’re seven months away from the election, but it’s been no priority for the last 31/2 years,” James said.

“It’s interesting timing that they would come out with this new money today. But it does nothing to address the criticism. They cut the subsidy program when they got in. They made the (threshold) higher, so basically fewer parents were able to access child-care subsidies and now they’re lowering it again.”

Roughly half of the $33-million injection was federal early childhood money, Hagen said.

James said the province has been misusing this money to prop up existing programs rather than create new ones, the intention of such transfer funds.

Hagen defended the government’s move, saying there has been no increase to these subsidy programs for 10 years. “I think everybody knew it needed to be addressed. I can remember the premier raising this for the first time at the cabinet table about three years ago. And it was really as a result of his pushing that all of this stuff was centralized under my ministry about three or four months ago.”…


B.C. child-care subsidy raised for first time in decade: Income threshold increased, 10,000 more children eligible
The Vancouver Sun, Oct 27, 2004, Dirk Meissner

The first increases in B.C. child-care subsidies in a decade were announced Tuesday.

The Liberal government will add $33 million annually to the provincial child-care budget, a move that makes 10,000 more children eligible for child-care subsidies and increases the subsidy already being received by thousands more children by $200, said Stan Hagen, minister of children and family development.

“Whatever the income threshold was today, it will be raised by $200 January 1,” he said following an announcement at a Victoria child care centre.

“I want to give parents certainty about their child’s development,” Hagen said. “Ten thousand more children will become newly eligible for funding through our child-care subsidy program.”

About 27,000 B.C. children in child care already receive subsidy payments, he said.

The money for the subsidy program is part of a joint federal-provincial government early learning and child care agreement.

Hagen said the subsidy increases make up the money the Liberals cut from families when they first took office in May 2001 and undertook a government-wide restraint program.

He also hinted more money is on the way.

“This is not the end,” he said. “We hope to continue to be able to make improvements to the programs. As our economy builds I think we’ll be able to do that.”

The increases cover families with children under six years old in regulated child care facilities.

As well, families with children with special needs will see increases and student loans for lower income parents will no longer factor into calculating subsidies….


More than money needed for child care
The Daily News (Kamloops), Oct 29, 2004
Opinion:Susan Duncan

Putting more money into child care is only one part of the equation needed to raise this important industry on the government’s priority list.

B.C. Liberals announced Tuesday a $3.3 million increase to the provincial child-care budget. Minister Stan Hagen emphasized that 10,000 more children will be eligible for child-care subsidies. He said he wants to give parents certainty about their children’s development.

While allowing more families access to child-care subsidies is helpful for people who need assistance, there is more to the child-care programs than space in day cares. What governments, federal or provincial, are not addressing is the quality of day care offered.

A recent international report described Canada’s child-care system as expensive, glorified babysitting, which has failed the country’s preschoolers. The report by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development said the system is fractured, seriously underfunded and places little importance on the educational aspect of child care. It also noted that some centres are poorly equipped and that workers are often poorly trained and poorly paid.

With that report getting support from experts in the field, federal and provincial governments need to carefully consider whether they are simply putting more money into bad programs and what they can do better.

There remains a philosophy that anyone can look after children, which is a dangerous premise on which to base child care. Looking after children, particularly other people’s children, is hard work and requires a specific skill set.

Yet, almost anyone can set up a day care and if they get licensed by health authorities, there are only minimum standards to meet. Surely, when it comes to our children, national or provincial standards for day care should strive for excellence.

Some day cares go well beyond the minimum standards, but others do not. Day care employees who take early childhood education are paid so poorly they often don’t stay in the field.

A few good ones stay because they see it as a vocation, but many of them eventually move into better paying careers, such as teaching. As a result, people with no training at all can end up looking after the vast majority of children in poor day care environments

A story in the Vancouver Sun last Saturday had health inspectors admitting that the child-care industry has grown so much that they are unable to meet even the basic obligation of an annual inspection. For 5,000 day-care facilities in B.C., there are 100 health inspectors and licensing is only a small part of their job. It’s disturbing to think what people might be getting away with under the auspices of a qualified day-care facility.

Politicians have been warned that they cannot keep adding child care spaces without adding the resources to ensure they are appropriate facilities for children. Yet, the Liberals’ announcement emphasizes how more children will be added to the program.

Additional money is going to have to go toward better pay for workers as well as improving the standards for day care and enforcement of those standards.

Children are an important resource and governments must have a vision for day care that will clearly indicate respect for the development and safety of our youth when their parents can’t be there to protect them.


Gov’t all talk, no action on families
The Vancouver Province, Oct 29, 2004
Editorial, Dorothy Weavers

I’m responding to Jim McNulty’s recent column about the lack of child-care funding. It was excellent.

This provincial government and the federal government should be ashamed at the lack of political will for the provision of adequate funding for child care, child-care workers and early childhood education.

The cutbacks in this province show that this government is all talk and no action when it comes to children and families.

My grandchildren are likely better off than most, but their families struggle every day due to cuts by this provincial government. I can’t imagine how families who are making very low incomes — both parents working and trying to raise their families — are doing it.

Proper child care and adequate pay for child-care workers benefit society now and in the future.

I’m a grandmother with four grandchildren. I thank you for keeping the public informed.


New childcare money welcomed, more wanted
Vancouver Island News Group, Nov 3, 2004

An infusion of $33 million into childcare in B.C. is good news, but doesn’t fully address the concerns of childcare advocates.

“All of this is of course positive,” said Mary Dolan of the Cowichan Valley Early Childhood Educators Coalition. “It indicates the government is listening to what families are saying.”

Minister of Children and Family Development Stan Hagen announced the new funding – coming in part from a federal-provincial childcare agreement – in Victoria last week.

It will be used to raise the income threshold for families to receive childcare subsidies by $200 per month, making about 10,000 more children in B.C. eligible.

It will also increase the supplement granted for care of children with special needs to $150 per month from $107.

Dolan said those changes will help in the Cowichan Valley, as many low-income working parents didn’t qualify for the subsidies under the old rules.

Another change removes student loans from consideration in counting a parents’ income. Dolan said that will greatly benefit the young parents who graduate from her Growing Together centre, for students of School District 79 with children.

“Young people moving on from here going for more education and taking a student loan will still qualify for the subsidy, and that’s going to assist a great deal,” she said.

However, Dolan said childcare advocates still have concerns. She said the $33 million is less than what’s been cut from childcare in the past three years.

She wondered if there would be enough spaces available for the increased demand for childcare, and if training programs for childcare workers would be increasing accordingly, and if enough resources will be put into inspecting childcare centres to ensure they are up to standards.

“You need more than money for good childcare,” she said. “You need trained practitioners. You need standards that can be maintained.”

Dolan said childcare advocates are pleased with media comments from Hagen indicating more money for childcare could still be on the way.

“I’m an optimist, not a pessimist, so I hope this isn’t because the election is coming up and is actually making a turnaround in recognizing the importance of early childcare.”