BC NDP says Premier Must Fight For Federal Childcare Dollars

BC NDP, Victoria

As the Conservatives prepare to take power in Ottawa, Gordon Campbell should be fighting to ensure that federal childcare dollars promised to B.C. continue to flow to the province, NDP Intergovernmental Relations critic Michael Sather said today.

“As the Conservatives transition into government, important decisions will be made about funding relationships with the provinces,” said Sather. “These decisions will have a dramatic impact on programs and services offered in B.C., including childcare. Gordon Campbell needs to stand up for the interests of ordinary British Columbians and fight for this funding.”

In September 2005, the federal government announced its Early Learning and Childcare Agreement with B.C., which provides $633 million dollars to the province for childcare and early childhood development over five years. The B.C. government must release its Childcare Action Plan by January 31, outlining how these funds are to be spent.

In the recent federal election, Stephen Harper said he would terminate childcare funding to the provinces after one year, and Sather argues that without strong leadership and advocacy by the B.C. Liberal government, these much-needed dollars will disappear.

“Gordon Campbell has stated that under a new Conservative government, he would continue to advocate for funding of key projects like the Pacific Gateway,” said Sather. “But he has fallen silent on other important programs, including the childcare agreement that sends millions flowing to B.C. annually.”

“In five short days, the Campbell government is scheduled to release B.C.’s Childcare Action Plan. Without swift action and advocacy by the Premier, millions of dollars will slip through our fingers — to the detriment of working families.”

Sather called on the Premier to use his close relationship with Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper to secure these funds and give B.C. children the best possible start in life.

“Gordon Campbell says that the lines of communication between himself and Stephen Harper are open. He needs to use them in the interests of working families that rely on quality, affordable and accessible childcare in B.C.,” Sather concluded.